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Historic MES fry to serve fish and memories

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By Lorrie Kinkade

Some may view this weekend’s Milton Elementary School fish fry as the end of a legacy, but perhaps it is simply evolving, as it has over the past 50 years.

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Saturday, Oct. 18, will be the last fish fry event held at the old Milton Elementary School, which will be replaced later this year with a brand-new school building in January.

“No one really knows how [the fish fry] started,” said J.W. Sachleben,who served as MES principal from 1971-83. “I think it might have evolved out of a fall festival. However it started, it has been wonderful.”

Current MES interim principal Deania Hurst was the school’s top administrator from 1991-99. She, like Sachleben and former principal Carl Allen, said the fish fry has been a community festival more than a school event.

Hurst credits innovative ideas from PTO members like C.D. Morris and Tracey Heveline for keeping the tradition alive during her tenure.

“It was a neat, neat experience to be involved in. Every person involved went above and beyond. We truly were a team and I think that is something that was always here when it came time for the fish fry,” she said.

Sachleben agreed, saying that many times during his stint at the school, PTO meetings would be ill attended until time for the fish fry.

“They all came forward then,” he said. “I don’t think it could have ever been successful without the parents.”

Sachleben said he spent most of the festivals during his tenure stationed at the fryer, where in his early years frozen fish was thawed, floured and seasoned before cooking, taking a bit more time than today’s dinners.

“We only had one fryer so the lines would be all the way up the hall. And it just kept growing year after year,” he said. “We changed to fish tails while I was there and the people kept coming. But we could get them through the line faster.”

Allen, principal from 1960-65, also remembers the fish frys of his tenure fondly.

“Volunteers sent food to go with the fish. All the students were involved and even then, it was something of a community interest,” he said. “We had games for the students and there was always a musical group. One year we had a ventriloquist who everyone enjoyed.”

Money raised at the fish fry has paid for paper, pencils, copy machines, computers, playground equipment and nearly anything else the school needed over the years. Regasrdless of the district budget, MES personnel always had faith the fish fry could provide, Hurst said.

Satuday’s fun begins with opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. Musical group “Unleaded,” featuring former MES students, will perform at 11:30 a.m., followed by Ryan Wardlow at 1:30 p.m. and The Jimmy Davis Band at 3:30 p.m.

A cornhole tournament for adults will begin at 1 p.m. and games, including a cake walk, will be open from 3-5:30 p.m. The live auction, featuring donations from local merchants, themed baskets, student artwork and a quilt created by students, will begin at 6 p.m.

Fish will be served until 6 p.m.

Lorrie Kinkade is editor of The Trimble Banner. Contact her at lkinkade@mytrimblenews.com.