On Friday nights in Wisconsin, at just about any restaurant or tavern that serves food, you can find fish on the menu.
This tradition is distinctive to Wisconsin, and at the Nov. 7 Waunakee Rotary meeting, Janet Gilmore, a UW-Madison folklorist, described a little about its origins.
Janet is from the Pacific Northwest and grew up with fisher-people, as she called them. She studied the traditions there, and after moving to Wisconsin, found that in a state with three sides surrounded by water and waterways internally, fishing was also important here.
Fish has long been an inexpensive and ready source of protein, and immigrants often ate it. But people grew tired of fish. Frying it was one method to make it “sexier,” Janet said.  
The problem was, frying it at home left an odor.
And so taverns began to fry fish and found it as a method to prepare large quantities quickly.
In the 1800s, Friday paydays meant that workers headed to taverns to drink up their paychecks. Then prohibition occurred, and meals were served in taverns with free alcohol served under the tables, Janet said.
After prohibition ended, families began to go out to have meals in taverns and it was a different kind of social environment.
  Janet described today’s Wisconsin fish fry as “probably one of the most socially charged atmosphere.”
Often, taverns and supper clubs have long lines to get in, but the lines themselves are like a party.
And fish fry is served in many places pretty much year round, not necessarily during Lent, when Catholics eat fish on Fridays.
Other News:
-The Rotary Board approved the following donations at their meeting earlier in the week:
•Eagle Scout Project - $225
•Shop with a Cop - $250
•Food Pantry - $2,000
•Special Olympics - $500
•Senior Thanksgiving Lunch - $300

-The Madison East-Monona Rotary Club took orders for cheese and sausage packages.
-It looks like more details need to be worked out to schedule a Christmas event outing at the Milwaukee Christmas market. Instead, the plan is to have the party on Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Lone Girl in their event room upstairs
-Peggy Acker-Farber is looking for cookies to bring to the Santa at the Village Center event Dec. 7. If you can get her a couple of dozen, let her know. She’ll need them at the Dec. 5 meeting.
-The club will not be working on Rotary Lights at the park this weekend as it will be the setting for the Girls on the Run event.
Guests: None.
Corporate Associates: Jean Elvekrog.
Visiting Rotarians: Sam Driscoll and Jim Dughton, Madison East, Monona.  
Birthdays: Nov. 20, Jennifer Hurley.
Anniversaries: None.
Programs: Nov. 14, Club Assembly, Karli Pagliughi classification talk; Nov. 21, Bob Dinnorf, Holy Wisdom Monastery, Oak Savannah restoration; Nov. 28, Happy Thanksgiving; Dec. 5, Randy Guttenberg, Waunakee School District facility planning and referendum.
Greeters: Nov. 7, Brian Franzen and Greg Garton; Nov. 14, Tracy Graber and Randy Guttenberg; Nov. 21, Rich Harris and Travis Heiser.