Lions Club Smelt Fry Begins Without its Founder
The Brooklyn Park Lions Smelt Fry is on again for a 56th year. Its billed as the longest running social event in Brooklyn Park. The event opened Tuesday evening with a big hungry crowd at the Community Activity Center.
The preparation process has become a well oiled machine over the years. From applying just the right batter, to dumping about 2,000 pounds of the tiny fish into fryers, volunteers are following a process designed by the man who first organized the event.
Art Kvamme help establish the Lions Club in the early 1960’s. He also put together the first Smelt Fry. It turned out to be a signature event for the organization. But this year, Kvamme is absent. He died in February at the age of 94. The Smelt Fry is now named in his honor.
“In those days the guys used to go up to Duluth, purchase the smelt in Duluth bring it back here and clean it for about a week,” said Lion David Williams. “They were out in tents, out in snow in the early April weather. They had a lot of fun doing that. I think there was a lot of schnapps passed around while they were cleaning smelt.”
Its a tradition that still survives. The smelt fry is a big fundraiser for the Lions Club which donates to many charitable causes. The Smelt Fry runs through Friday and starts every evening at five o’clock.