Fried catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, fries and desserts — there isn't much more you could want in terms of a Saturday afternoon feast.
Unless some local country and gospel tunes can be added to the mix.
Consider it done, says Stu Hammond, the outreach chair for the second annual St. Andrew's Fish Fry, set for noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. The location is St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 314 W. Broadway Ave. in downtown Maryville.
The cost to partake is $15 for adults, $5 for ages 5 to 11 and free for those 4 and under. Tickets will be available at the door.
Chadwick's Creamery is the sponsor, so there will be lots of ice cream to enjoy. This and other desserts like the bake sale items are not included in the ticket price, however. This will be an additional donation for the fundraising effort.
Hammond's co-chair for the event is Bob Shaffer, who will be in charge of the food. In addition to the fried catfish, there will be grilled hot dogs served up with all the fixings.
As Hammond pointed out, this is Father's Day weekend. The fish fry, he said, will surely please some dads out there.
St. Andrew's has had its annual Garden Day for years, but Hammond said a decision was made last year to replace it with this fish fry. The proceeds from Garden Day had always gone to local charities, and it's the same for this second annual feast.
The four that will benefit include Good Neighbors, Family Promise, Community Food Connection and Habitat for Humanity. Last year, the fish fry raised a little over $9,000 to be split among them, Hammond said.
"We had great success last year," he explained. "That's because of the wonderful support from the church and the community."
There are a few things held over from Garden Day, this co-chair said. Baked goods made by church members, pottery created from the church's pottery program and gorgeous quilts will all be for sale. Among the attendees of last year's fish fry were frequent shoppers at Garden Day, Hammond said.
The entertainment is a little different this year. The day will start off with the band Cats Away, at noon, followed by the ever-popular Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, at 1 p.m. A combination jam session featuring both will take place until 2 p.m. John DiDiego, a folksinger, will take the stage at 3:30 p.m. Next, attendees will get a taste of blues and jazz with Hammond on piano, at 4 p.m.
Contemporary guitarist/singer Frank Degennaro will perform from 5 to 6 p.m. Rounding out the evening will be the gospel group Truth Is, from 6 to 7 p.m.
St. Andrew's is a small parish, Hammond said, and it takes practically the entire church to organize and host such an event. "Anybody who is able," he said. "All able bodies take part."
Making a difference
That so many are willing to do so much has a lot to do with what is done with the funds raised. Hammond said each year, the church votes on which charitable organizations to donate its funds to. All four of these have been voted for in multiple years.
Community Food Connection of Blount County is a food ministry available to needy families in Blount County. The pantry is located on Whitecrest Drive in Maryville. Families can receive food at no charge.
Good Neighbors of Blount County also helps families in crisis, when they are unable to pay rent or utilities. This nonprofit is now located on the campus of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. It also has volunteer coaches who help individuals find solutions.
Blount County Habitat for Humanity continues to serve out its mission of providing affordable homes for families. Currently, there are three homes under construction. Habitat has built more than 150 houses in this community and isn't slowing down.
Family Promise of Blount County tackles the homeless problem here by providing emergency shelter at host churches. This ministry also has a case worker who helps families develop a plan of action so they don't end up homeless again. Family Promise has transitional housing as these families move out of the emergency shelter and into their own places.
These four ministries do two important things, Hammond said. They focus on the people who are in the greatest need and they do more than apply "band-aid" measures, he explained. That includes forming a network of services.
"Some are so far down and out of hope," Hammond said of the aid recipients. "It can be really hard for them to pull out of that. That's the whole point of this."
The job of the rest of us, Hammond said, is to serve. For St. Andrew's, that includes hosting events like the fish fry to support these ministries.
And those who attend the fish fry will make a difference, too.
"It's a great day and we hope to continue having it," Hammond said. He remembers last year and looking around at the workers. "Even the volunteers, as tiring as it was, were having a ball," he said.