Attend an Illinois Fish Fry During Lent

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With the Lenten season just around the corner, villages, towns and cities across Illinois participate in the Friday fish fry ritual. Hundreds of people flock to the village of Woodworth, about 100 miles south of Chicago in western Illinois.

A Friday night tradition, the Woodworth-style fish fry dates to the 1930s. It originated with Elmer Brutlag’s fish sandwiches, prepared at his tavern in southern Woodworth, and remains a top secret family recipe. People would travel near and far to get a taste of the legendary deep-fried cod, bringing their families for sandwiches that cost a quarter apiece. Locals say the thick batter sets this sandwich apart.

Today, the Woodworth Fish Fry benefits St. Paul’s Lutheran School and costs a bit more than 25 cents, though still affordable. They sell the fish sandwiches on hot dog buns with à la carte side options of beans and coleslaw, and a slice of homemade pie for dessert. This year’s fish fry fundraiser takes place March 23.

Among many other places hosting a Friday fish fry during Lent include St. Raymond de Penafort Catholic Church in Mount Prospect, Knights of the Columbus in Marion and St. Andrew’s in Chicago.

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