Costa Mesa’s Fish Fry warms up for 70th year — possibly its last at Fairview Park

While organizers are busy putting the finishing touches on the 70th annual Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club Fish Fry ahead of its opening Friday, they’re also looking ahead to next year, when the event might have to move from Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park.

Lions Club board Vice President Mike Scheafer said Tuesday that city officials recently told him the three-day Fish Fry would have to find a new home after it wraps up Sunday.

“Apparently there have been some environmental concerns,” said Scheafer, known around town as “Mr. Fish Fry.”

In light of the recent passage of Measure AA — which requires voter approval for several possible changes at Fairview — and general public interest in preserving the open nature of the park, city spokesman Tony Dodero said the city is reviewing whether it might be better to relocate the event.

“Because of the sensitivity around the use of Fairview Park, we are looking into better locations to hold the Fish Fry in the future,” he said.

It’s possible, however, the event could remain at Fairview, Dodero added.

The Fish Fry moved from Lions Park to Fairview in 2012.

One reason for the move, Scheafer said, was that the festival’s carnival rides were damaging the Davis Field baseball diamond in Lions Park.

Holding the event at Fairview also enabled it to be at a larger scale and to incorporate a beer garden.

“We needed more room,” Scheafer said. “No question about it.”

Asked where the Fish Fry could go if it has to move again, Scheafer said, “We’ll have to see.”

Over the years, there’s been consideration of moving it to the OC Fair & Event Center or perhaps a local high school campus, according to Scheafer.

As for this year, the Fish Fry will carry on much as it has for decades, offering carnival attractions, live music, a baby contest and plates piled with fried fish battered with a top-secret recipe.

Two additions from last year — a car…

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