Even though the sky was gloomy, hundreds of district resident and visiting tourists attended the 48th-annual fish fry hosted by Rainy River First Nations.
More than 510 pounds of walleye was battered and fried up, and served alongside various salads, smoked sturgeon, and fried bread.
The festivities started strong just after 4 p.m. as a large and winding lineup stretched out from the food tent at the RRFN pow-wow grounds located just north of the Highway 11/71 junction.
And even as it began to sprinkle, those on hand were not deterred as many just took out their umbrellas and lifted their hoods to shield them as they waited in line.
Eventually, however, the line tapered off as the steadier rain arrived–causing many to flee to their vehicles.
The food was brought into the kitchen and the tents taken down. But despite the rain, the volunteers knew more people would be stopping by.
After a quick plate count, it was estimated about 750 people had stopped by the grounds before the rain. The average is about 800-900, with the event drawing a record-breaking 1,200 last year.
Pam Kaun, who has been heading the event for more than 30 years, said it most likely was the rain that kept attendance low this year.
The annual fish fry has been a community gathering for almost five decades and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.
“This is the 48th-annual fish fry so it’s been going on for many years,” Kaun remarked.
“It’s just getting bigger and bigger.”
The RRFN fish fry has been a tradition for many years but Tanya Hunter, manager of the Manitou Mounds, said it’s also part of the Anishinaabe culture.
“Part of our culture is when we have abundance, we share,” she explained. “We just share with everybody around us.
“We make new friends and make new relationships.”
The invite list is very long as everyone from surrounding communities, all First Nations’ communities, and local businesses are welcome at attend.
Word-of-mouth also can go a long way.
“We don’t turn them away,” said Hunter.