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Costa Mesa’s Fish Fry ready for last feast at Fairview Park

Longtime frier Rick Blake, left, dumps a fresh batch of french fries as fellow cook Vincent Williams
Rick Blake, left, unloads a fresh batch of french fries as fellow cook Vincent Williams, center, lays out a batch of fresh Alaskan cod during a past Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club Fish Fry. This year is the Fish Fry’s last at Fairview Park. It will move back to Lions Park in 2020.
(File Photo)

Fish Fry fans will bid farewell to Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park this weekend as the local Lions Club presents its annual tradition for the last time there before it returns to its former longtime home at Lions Park in 2020.

The 72nd Fish Fry, which begins Friday evening and runs through Sunday, will feature about 4,000 Alaskan cod, carnival rides and games, bands, a beer and wine garden and more.

A week later, the sponsoring Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club will hold its first golf tournament at the Costa Mesa Country Club.

The fry, whose proceeds benefit Costa Mesa nonprofits, has been held in Fairview Park since 2012, soon after a half-million dollars in renovations made Lions Park off-limits for the carnival’s wear and tear.

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But the Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a 10-year agreement with the Lions Club to hold the Fish Fry at Lions Park beginning next year.

“We all support and love Fairview Park and want to make sure that it continues to be the jewel of our city. We also love and support the Lions Club and make sure that this fun, happy event happens in our community,” Mayor Katrina Foley said.

The Fish Fry’s time at Fairview Park has sometimes been difficult. In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service challenged the location, saying the Fish Fry and three other community events could hamper bird nesting activity, particularly for a couple of at-risk species.

The fry was held at Fairview in 2018, but to avoid nesting season, the date was moved to September from its typical spot on the weekend after Memorial Day.

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Volunteers this year will sport T-shirts with a picture of a Ferris wheel and the phrase “Last ride at Fairview Park,” according to Lions Club President Phil Marsh.

“We’re happy to go back to our original spot,” Marsh said. “Plus, now it’s all nice and new down there, or will be once it’s finished, so it should be a pretty good deal.”

The Fish Fry’s old home won’t look the same when the event returns to Lions Park next year. The park next summer is expected to feature updates to its playground. A new library opened on the premises in May.

IF YOU GO

What: Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club Fish Fry

When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The final day will feature a rib-eating contest for police officers and firefighters at 3 p.m.

Where: Fairview Park, 2501 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa

Cost: Admission is free, fish dinners are $10

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