By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Apr 12, 2007 at 11:52 AM

This weekend I will attend my very first smelt fry, although the American Legion Post #82, 435 Lake St., in Port Washington, has been serving up these tiny fish, which you eat whole (minus the heads) for an impressive 56 years.

According to manager Ray Wendt, the annual event serves 300-plus to-go orders and 1,400 people in-house, including five busloads of Chicagoans who commute up from Shaw’s Crab House and other venues for the two-day smelt extravaganza.

From 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, April 13, and from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, visitors to the Post can scarf down smelt, fries, cole slaw, bread and a Coors beer for only $9.

Wendt says the smelt, which originally were dip netted in Port Washington and Bay View’s own Jones Island, are now hard to come by in those areas and are brought in from Algoma and Lake Superior. 

At first I was a little uncertain about tossing whole fried fish into my gullet, but a conversation with Wendt assured me that not only is the smelt fry steeped in Wisconsin tradition, the event itself is great fun, especially on Saturdays when the Illinois visitors like to frolic, fraternize and take pictures of the lake.

Non-beer drinkers will be happy to know the bar is open full-service, and you likely will be able to find another attendee happy to drink your Coors if you don’t want it.

As for the smelt themselves?  Wendt says since the best smelt are very tiny so as to avoid the bones, a fried smelt is just like a little “French fry fish”. 

For more information on the American Legion Post #82 56th annual Smelt Fry, call (262) 284-4690.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to