Prairie Township firefighters will fry about 2,000 pounds of ocean perch at their annual fish fry, but more than just good food lures visitors to the event.

"It's a homecoming type of event," said Nancy Hunter, a dispatcher who serves as one of the organizers for the fish fry.

"We had a total attendance of about 12,000 over both nights last year," she said. "People get to see and visit with people they haven't seen for a while. A lot of people who've moved out of state come back and stay with family or friends or plan their vacation around our fish fry.

"It's a tradition in our community," Hunter said.

The 68th annual fish fry will be held from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, at 106 Norton Road.

Along with the fish, the firefighters will also serve hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, coleslaw, french fires, pies, cakes and soft drinks,

"There'll be plenty of good food," Hunter said.

The 18th annual Firefighters Cruise-In will be held on Friday night.

"It's an open event for all makes and models of cars and motorcycles," said Jeannie Owens, a dispatcher and a Cruise-In coordinator.

Registration for the cruise-in will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. with an entry fee of $10. The first 100 registered vehicles will receive a free dash plaque.

Fifty award trophies will be presented.

"We really don't have any categories for the trophies," Owens said. "The firefighters do the judging, and they pick the winners based on what vehicles catch their eye.

"They love looking at all the cars."

In case of rain, the cruise-in will be held on June 24, with the same registration time.

Live entertainment will be offered from 6 to 10 p.m. each night with local talent, including the Tim Castle Southern Rock Band, Hunter said.

Youngsters will enjoy a carnival midway with rides and games, she said.

The event also will feature a craft area. Anyone interested in reserving a space for a craft or vendor booth should contact Chad Story at 614-878-7100 or by email at cstory@ptfdfire.com.

A raffle will be held both nights at 10 p.m.

"We are so appreciative of the support we get from our local businesses who donated prizes for the raffle," Hunter said.

The raffle items will include several $100 and $50 cash prizes, gift cards, gift baskets and bags and sports tickets.

Three raffle tickets cost $1, Hunter said.

Items can be donated for the raffle by calling the township's main office at 614-878-3317.

The fish fry benefits the Prairie Township Firefighter's Association.

"The firefighters created the association to support the fire department," Hunter said. "We use the proceeds from the fish fry to provide funds for equipment and other expenses that aren't covered in the fire department budget."

Last year's event raised about $16,000, she said. The money was used to purchase weights.

The fish fry serves as the main fundraiser for the association, Hunter said.

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