Bring your appetite, babies

Annual Fish Fry, which is making a slight change in its kitchen, will host a Cutest Baby contest this weekend at Lions Park.

May 29, 2008|By Alan Blank

It probably won’t bring down the price of gas, but the Lions Club Fish Fry is going green — sort of.

The 61-year-old fair, one of Costa Mesa’s most beloved institutions, will bring its rides, music and fried cod out to Lions Park Saturday and Sunday; this year, however, connoisseurs of the liquid shortening that the fair has traditionally used to fry its fish might be disappointed.

“We’ve gone with [soybean] oil that someone is actually going to collect from us to turn into diesel fuel,” said a laughing Mike Scheafer, who has helped organize the event for 25 years.


So maybe it’s not earth-shattering, but after putting on the same event for more than half a century how many novel innovations can you come up with? Lions Club members are just happy the tradition lives to see another year.

Last year, a proposal that narrowly failed in a 3-2 city council vote would have established a skateboard park on the Fish Fry’s turf — in the same park where the first Fish Fry raised money to put up a baseball field in the 1940s.

“All of the Lions Club guys are relieved we’re not going to have to look for a new place to do it. We’re glad that we can continue the tradition where it started,” Scheafer said.

One of the event’s most distinguishing features is a contest known as the “Cutest Baby Contest,” run by Sandi Scheafer, Mike’s wife.

Babies are put into one of two categories: six- to 12-months-old, and 13- to 24-months-old. They are judged by a handful of volunteers on “beauty, personality and overall appearance.”

“It’s all just a fun contest. We tell the parents not to take it so seriously,” Sandi said.

Easy for her to say. All three of the Scheafers’ grown sons have won trophies in the contest through the years. Entrance is $5 per baby, and registration will continue until the beginning of the contest, 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Fish Fry takes place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m Saturday and Sunday at Lions Park at 18th and Park streets. Admission is free, and fish dinners cost $8.

ALAN BLANK may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at

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