FORT MADISON – The Elks Club has hosted countless fish fries over the years. The fish fry that will be held as a benefit event on December 15 from 11am to 2pm will be like no other our community has ever seen. Elks Club members Eric and Lori Greene and Aaron and Amy Lauber invite you to be their guests as volunteer Club members fry up catfish dinners and serve up drinks alongside Kirby & Theresa Marsden, a cadre of their family and friends and members of the Dallas City Fryers
Kirby and Theresa owned Quality Fisheries, the fish market that has been a cornerstone of Niota, Illinois for 67 years. Their family business burned to the ground in the early hours the morning of Tuesday, December 3rd and was almost a complete loss. Almost. Except for a freezer of fish located in an outbuilding untouched by the fire.
“We were heading into a busy holiday season where we expected to sell lots of premium fish and seafood, along with our smoked catfish, to grace the tables of area holiday parties. We usually earn enough to share a nice Christmas bonus with our employees.” says owner Kirby Marsden. Instead, with their business in tatters, the Marsdens and their employees now face an uncertain future heading into the winter.
But they have that last freezer of fish. And it now needs to earn these families a living until the Marsdens can figure out if they can put their business back in place.
“Kirby and his wife have been together since they were 15 and are such a sweet couple. They just held each other’s hands for strength, a scant 36 hours after they lost everything, while we pitched them the idea of using their fish for this fundraiser. They have held many fundraisers themselves for others in need over the years. They never believed they would now need one of their own. We know this is a busy time of the year for everyone but we are really hoping for a big turn out at this fish fry and for the community to show their support,” says Lori Greene, a member of the Elks Club helping to organize the benefit meal.
“We are trying to get the word out to everyone. These people have lost their family business and this is a really tough time for them and their employees. They need to get top dollar for their remaining fish instead of selling it by the box at wholesale rates. Turning it into it a delicious meal we all love may just be the ticket to offer them a lifeline. They have a chance to earn a little cash while they sort out their next steps.”
The Elks have a long history of providing a venue to hold benefits to assist with folks in need and to help generate money for local programs and events. They are hoping for a really big turnout for this particular event. Quality Fisheries has been their supplier for many years of the delicious catfish that the Elks serve up every other Friday. “It’s such a loss for the Community. I remember going to the fish market with my parents when I was a kid,” says Amy Lauber, the current manager of the Elks Club. “I have gotten to know Kirby pretty well since I have been buying fish for the Club. He is such a nice guy. I hope we can help him with this benefit dinner.”
The Elks Club is located at 719 Ave H in Fort Madison. There is street parking on the side streets and a City Parking lot just west of the Club at 8th Street and Ave H. Guests can enter the Elks Club through the front entrance on the river side of the building, or through a back alley entrance. “General seating will be available in the front dining room accessed by the front entrance, and we will stage orders to go out of the back entrance,” says Lauber.
A three piece fish fry dinner, including slaw, baked beans, fries and a roll, will be available for a suggested free will donation of $10. To give some idea of the number of meals to prepare, advance orders are being taken (but are not required for you to attend.) Please call the Club at 319-372-3724 or email email@example.com. Indicate your name, the number of meals, if they will be eat in or take out, and the approximate time you will be arriving. We look forward to seeing you at the Elks for this fundraiser!