13 years of Wisconsin fish frys

Eric Koeppel

Friday Fish Fry woo!
Friday Fish Fry woo!

What’s better than a good old Wisconsin fish fry? Nothing. There is literally nothing better than stuffing grilled whitefish, tartar sauce, fries, and coleslaw into your belly on a Friday night. And in the most recent edition of Wisconsin Historical Society’s “Jim Widmer’s ‘Spirit of Rural Wisconsin’” titled “Fish Fry Fridays, 1997-2010” you can peruse loads of photos from fish frys across the sate during Widmer’s 13-year fish fry frenzy.

Widmer, who grew up in Theresa, WI, began capturing “the spirit of rural Wisconsin with the best photographic equipment available” in the mid 1900s. In 1997 Widmer and his wife, Shirley, began a 13-year fish fry-tastin’ journey across the state. The retired couple once traveled 235 miles to a fish fry and have tasted over 450 different Wisconsin fish frys. Now that’s dedication! The two, along with various friends and family, even created their own rating system for each fish fry. I give that ten out of ten bluegills.

Widmer took two black and white photographs of each restaurant, one from the outside and one on the inside. And photos from fish frys at diners, bars, country clubs and more can be found on Jim Widmer’s ‘Spirit of Rural Wisconsin,” Part II. The article also discusses the origins of Wisconsin fish frys, background on the Widmers, and other fishtorical tidbits.