Due to COVID-19, the 2021 Grand Old Fish Fry has been canceled. We are looking forward to seeing you all in 2022!
From The PHS President, May 9, 2017
What a spectacular day we had at the 41st Grand Old Fish Fry! The weather was incredible after all the rain just days before. A huge amount of planning and work goes into running The Fish Fry every year. I would personally like to thank every volunteer that gave their time prior to and during the Fish Fry. They all put in many hours of leg work and planning. As chair, I am very grateful for the hard work of our volunteers.
A very big “thank you” to Lori and Jason Cook and their crew from A Fork In The Road Catering and A-Bee Tent Rentals. Lori and Jason have provided their time cooking all the food that we serve and the tables and chairs. We could not present this great event every year without them.
I would like to thank our corporate sponsors. The financial and in-kind donations from these local businesses and friends are crucial to the success of the Fish Fry. We encourage you to support these businesses who year after year donate to the Historical Society.
Year after year Pembroke’s Department of Public Works prepares the Thomas A. Reading Park, delivers trash barrels and retrieves them on Monday. Pembroke’s Recreation Department has generously donated the use of their popcorn machine. The Kiwanis Club of Pembroke provided volunteers who helped staff our parking area and set up tents. The Boy Scouts were herding our racing ducks and the High School Key Club and National Honor Society members were hosting our face painting table. We appreciate all your efforts.
This year I would like to give a special shout out of thanks to Anna Seery of The Pembroke Council on Aging who, at the last minute, secured 2 buses and drivers for us. Due to heavy rains just days before, the field across the street was still too wet for parking.
In addition, a big thank you to Sabrina Chilcott and her co-workers in the Selectmen’s office who got permission for us to use the Town Hall parking lot. The transportation all came together within hours on Friday. I am so very grateful.
Sincerely, On Behalf of The Pembroke Historical Society
Beth Dwyer, President
become a fish fry sponsor!
The Grand Ol Fish Fry is the largest annual fundraiser for The Pembroke Historical Society. Proceeds and donations go towards the maintenance of The Adah Hall House, The Friends Quaker Meeting House, The Museum Building and Peter’s Well. Corporate and individual sponsors are invited to contribute to this important work. Anyone interested in contributing can find information by clicking here.
Grand Ol’ Fish Fry sponsors will be prominently featured at the event and in all media materials. Pembroke Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
PHS invites members of the greater Pembroke community, contributors, sponsors and volunteers to join us or volunteer at The 43rd Grand Ol’ Fish Fry. If you would like to know more, contact PHS President and Grand Ol’ Fish Fry chair, Beth Dwyer by clicking here. Or you may reach Beth Dwyer by telephone at 781-829-2157.
PEMBROKE’S JOY & PRIDE
BY KAREN PROCTOR, PEMBROKE EXPRESS COLUMNIST
It is as familiar a sign of spring as the lengthening of the daylight hours. Each year, at the end of April or the beginning of May, depending on the weather, it attracts the curious from towns all over the area. Of course, I'm talking about the running of the herring, and its attendant yearly Fish Fry, sponsored by the Pembroke Historical Society. The ritual of the Fish Fry is fairly new, but the running of the herring goes back to a time unknown.
The late historian, Harry Litchfield calls these herring the true proprietors; the original settlers of Pembroke. The Native American Tribe known as the Massachusetts called this area "Nemassakeesett" or "place of much fish," and came here from their home at Neponset. There was an Indian fish weir at the location of the Herring Run long before 1698, when written records show its existence.
European settlers Robert Barker and Dolor Davis turned up the Herring Brook on their travels westward from Scituate, no doubt partly because of the abundance of fish to feed Barker's growing family.
The herring were vital to the lives of early residents of Pembroke. At one of the first Town Meetings it was voted that if any person built a dam or other type of "stoppage" preventing the herring from passing upstream, such a structure could be lawfully torn down. In 1717 Isaac Barker and Ephraim Nichols were empowered to "hire a man or men to go with neighboring Indians and clear the Herring Brook" and to prosecute the builder of any obstruction.
For many years, the herring were caught by individuals without interference. In 1741, the town of Pembroke began an elaborate plan to regulate the number of fish that could be caught by any resident. That first year, the herring were farmed out to James Randall for 70 pounds. He could sell them for no more than a shilling a hundred or five shillings a barrel with no more than two barrels going to each family. He was forbidden to catch from sunset to sunrise, nor could he catch on Saturdays. He also had to keep all others from catching and he had to give full credit to all residents of the town, the amount of such credit to be deducted from the 70 pounds.
Apparently, this method was not very. lucrative and the town abandoned this strict policy but kept the practice of farming out the fish. In 1745, the citizens were allowed to catch the fish along specific stretches of the brook but "with scoop, nets only." The dates and times for fishing were carefully set out. In 1772, the town again set upon the idea of farming out the herring and voted that “the poor have one-tenth of what the fish fetch payable in fish at one shilling per hundred." Indians were allowed five barrels and prohibited from fishing henceforth.
Over the years, various methods of herring regulation were tried. In 1799 it was decided that the selectmen "would be the fish committee and had full authority to appoint and instruct a superintendent for this fishy business.
As complex as the issue of herring regulation seems to have been for our forefathers, one thing is very clear – the words of the old rhyme recounted by Litchfield from his youth have a ring of truth:
Herrin’ up, herrin’ down,
Herrin' all about the town.
Herrin’ be Pembroke’s joy and pride;
If it hadn't been for herrin’,
Old Pembroke would have died.
2017 sponsors of 41ST FISH FRY
Richard and Margaret Carrara
Damon and Diodati, Inc.
Old School Café
The Lubrano Family Charitable Foundation
Good Deeds Thrift Store
Tiny & Sons Auto Glass
Coletta and Cutler Realty
JLK & Associates
Northeast Travel Control
Rockland Trust Bank
Bridgewater Savings Bank
Pembroke Center Liquors
The Protectowire Fire Systems
Sampson Lumber Company
Shepherd Funeral Home
The Kiwanis Club
Lucky Dawg Tavern & Grille
Pembroke House of Pizza
Pembroke Recreation Department
Pembroke Boy Scouts
Pembroke High School National Honor Society and Key Clubs
Quatrefoil Drone Services
Pembroke Council on Aging
Dunkin Donuts at 152 Center Street Pembroke, MA