For 50 years, the Center Point Volunteer Fire Department has been protecting residents and for 50 years residents have enjoyed the annual fish fry.
That tradition will continue starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the firehouse.
Firefighters hope the community will turn out to enjoy the food, fellowship and small town hospitality.
Fifty years ago, the Center Point Fire Department was born of necessity. Two major house fires in the previous two winters demonstrated the old bucket brigade and dependence on the Brazil Fire Department were inadequate, according to a press release from the Center Point department.
Fred Rentschler, Roy Wright, Marvin Moon, Harold Plunkett and McNary Hoffa were convinced the town needed a fire department. They were joined by Gib and Jim Rentschler, George Schmalte, Wendell Foulke, Jim Lyons, Marvin Waldbeiser, Harlan Leachman, Ralph Neese, Hervie Lowdermilk, Robert Campbell, Rex Megenhardt, Jim Stearley, Jack Fineran, Levi Urbain and Sam Kirchner to form the charter membership of the department. Campbell was chosen the first fire chief.
The first department meeting was on Nov. 25, 1955, at the Regal Grocery Store owned by Roy Wright. The by-laws of the Seelyville Volunteer Fire Department were used to guide the formation of the Center Point department.
A firehouse was built using volunteer labor and a 1946 Dodge pumper was obtained. On Nov. 27, 1955, the following officers were elected: President Warren Nicoson, Vice President McNary Hoffa, Secretary Fred Rentschler, Treasurer John Randolph, Board of Directors Roy Wright, C.E. Moon and Arthur Hart.
The town's telephone switchboard operator received calls and a siren atop the drug store called volunteers to the firehouse. The men then called the switchboard to find out where the fire was burning.
In March of 1956, the first fish fry was organized to raise money for the fire department. In April, plans were finalized for Roy Wright to obtain fish, oil and condiments. Roy Stearley would fry the fish in his home-built fryer and each member of the department would bring baked beans and cole slaw.
The public was charged $1 for adults and 50 cents for children.
There were 150 pounds of fish fried the first year and it sold quickly sold out, according to a history of the department.
The department netted $343 profit, Treasurer John Randolph reported.