If you spend any time driving around downtown Grafton, you’re bound to get hungry for fried fish.

It seems that every block bears at least one (or even two) signs proudly advertising the St. Joseph Parish fish fry. It’s an endearing reminder of this community’s love for the event, now in its 23rd year of fundraising for the parish school.

The fish fry at St. Joseph Parish is a staple in the Grafton community. (Photo by Colleen Jurkiewicz)

I grew up in Grafton and had attended and even worked a fish fry or two in the St. Joe’s parish hall, so I was looking forward to seeing how it held up after more than a decade of absence. I wasn’t disappointed.

We arrived at about 6:15 p.m., after the kitchen had been open almost two hours, and there was still a steady stream of diners and carry-outs making their way through the church gathering space downstairs to the parish hall and school cafeteria, transformed into a bustling restaurant for the evening.

There is always the prospect that a well-attended parish fish fry can seem overwhelming, but even with the large crowd at St. Joe’s that wasn’t the case. The volunteers at St. Joe’s have the process down to a science. I recognized many of the volunteers from back in the day — dedicated school families whose children have long since graduated but who continue to give of their time to support the parish school and community.

I chose the three-piece beer-battered cod plate for $13, which came (as all the meals do) with coleslaw, potatoes, rye bread and butter, coffee and milk and dessert. The fish was flavorful and perfectly crispy, while still being tender enough to handle easily with a plastic fork. While we waited for our food, my daughter colored happily with the supplies provided at each table, and she gave a positive review to the kid’s meal (just $6, and you can choose from fish, shrimp, hot dog and mac and cheese).

If you’re feeling lucky this Lent, you’ll want to buy some tickets from the St. Joe’s fish fry drawing. Ticket prices are $5 each, $50 for 15 and $100 for 75. The eight winners will be drawn at the final fish fry on April 3; one person will take home the grand prize of $2,300, with seven other winners bagging $1,000 each.

Future dates for the St. Joe’s fish fry are March 6, 13, 20 and April 3. For more information and a full menu, visit