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8/6/2014 2:00:00 PM
Last Call for Fish Chowder

By Kathy Onorato

Cathy Tyler serves her fish chowder at St. Philip's weekly summer supper Aug. 4. The church's last fish chowder supper will be Aug. 11. (Kathy Onorato photo)
Cathy Tyler serves her fish chowder at St. Philip's weekly summer supper Aug. 4. The church's last fish chowder supper will be Aug. 11. (Kathy Onorato photo)
After 34 years of a summertime tradition, St. Philip's weekly Monday night fish chowder suppers in Wiscasset will be coming to an end Aug. 11.

While serving chowder Aug. 4, Cathy Tyler, chairman of the church's fish chowder supper committee, said she was sadden by the news, but recognized the need for the decision.

"I was devastated, I left in tears," said Tyler.

Tyler said the church's vestry of which she is a member, decided last month it was time to end the fish chowder suppers because of declining attendance and the rising cost of making the chowder.

According to Tyler, who has been making the chowder since 2006, the cost of fish has nearly doubled over the last few years and the price of the supper has escalated to $15 per adult.

During the good years of the supper, Tyler said the church served up to 200 bowls of chowder each night, but lately the numbers have declined considerably.

"Last week we served only 32 bowls," Tyler said.

According to Tyler, the suppers began over 30 years ago when church member Betty Vollmer, now 82, wanted to do something to help her church. For years Vollmer volunteered to make the chowder each week for the church.

Tyler said she could not support the church financially, but she too wanted to make a contribution to the church so when the need arose in 2006, she committed to making the chowder each week.

"While I have been dishing out chowder, I have found a family here," Tyler said.

The chowder suppers also hold a special memory for Kristen Cowing, who has been serving at the chowder suppers for 15 years. Cowing met her husband Timothy while they worked together serving.

Cowing's daughters Isabelle, 12 and Abigail, 8 have been delivering desserts to dinner guests since they could carry a tray, their mother said.

Nancy Roby said she and her husband haven't missed a supper in several years and the Monday evening church benefit had become part of their weekly routine. The reason the Robys have returned for the chowder each week is simple, Roby said.

"You can't get a meal like this anywhere else. I'm sorry to see it go," Roby said. "It's the end of an era."

The dinner always includes an assortment of salads, breads, desserts and drinks.

Alna resident Butch Tobin turned 72 years old Aug. 4 and celebrated by attending the supper with his daughter Jill Cotta and her family.

Tobin said he loved the chowder. In fact his daughter said he was cleaning up the bowls of chowder left behind by his grandchildren.

The last fish chowder supper will be served Monday, Aug. 11 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at St. Philip's Church, 12 Hodge St., Wiscasset. Reservations are suggested, but not necessary. To make a reservation call the church at 882-7184.

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