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Wimbledon steak fry: Community event becomes way to help others

Chris Olson / The Sun There are only three Wimbledon community steak frys scheduled before the weather gets too cold. Spearheading the dinners are Marv Martin, Ronny Hoggarth, Jim and Jan Martin and Kelly Martinson.

WIMBLEDON, N.D. --The idea for holding a community steak fry in Wimbledon came from a discussion on a summer day two years ago.

Since June 2011, the community has gathered on every other Thursday for the steak fry. The next steak fry is from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 17 in the picnic shelter next to CM's Place in Wimbledon. The final two steak fry dinners of the season will be on Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, also in the shelter next to CM's Place. The cost is $10 per person for a 10- to 12-ounce steak, baked potato and garlic toast.

Jim Martin and some other residents of the small town, located about 30 miles northeast of Jamestown, were talking about things to do in the community.

"It was just one of those summer days and people were talking 'let's do something,'" Martin said.

From that talk came the first community steak fry. Martin, with his wife, Jan, brother Marvin Martin and friend Ron Hoggarth, talked with Dan and Charlie Sizer, owners of CM's Place, a bar in Wimbledon, about using a picnic shelter next to the bar to hold the steak fry.

Martin said the original idea was to have the community gather, bring their own steaks and cook them on a large charcoal grill.

"We offered people the choice of bringing their own steaks and cooking the meat themselves, or for $10 we would provide the steak and cook it for them," he said. "That first one, most of the people went with the second option."

From then on Martin and his small crew of volunteers, including Bobbi Jo Everson and Kelly Martinson, who work at CM's Place, would cook and serve the steak dinner.

"The bar provides the baked potatoes, we furnish the garlic toast and steaks," Martin said. Sometimes people coming to the steak fry will bring food to share, like a good batch of pickles or a vegetable dish.

"That is what makes this fun, it really is a community event," he said.

At the end of the first season, there was some money left over from the dinners. The volunteers decided, since the funds came from the community, they should go back into the community. Martin said the profits from the dinners go to local community groups, or if a family is in need, they will help the family out.

In 2012 Martin said the steak fry dinners raised $1,200 after expenses. Those funds went to the family of a Wimbledon man who died in a motorcycle accident, and some new playground equipment was installed at a community park.

For the 2013 season Martin said he thinks there will be close to $2,000 profit from the dinners. He said the steak fry has grown in popularity since its start in 2011.

"The first one we held in spring this year, we had 60 steaks and we sold out," Martin said. For most of the dinners since then, he has ordered between 90 to 100 steaks for each dinner this year to keep up with demand. Jan Martin said Travis Schlager, owner of Trapper's Meat and Supplies in Jamestown, supplies the meat for steak fry.

"If we don't use all the steaks for one dinner, we can freeze them and use them at the next one," he said.

With Hoggarth cooking the steaks, Marvin Martin making the garlic toast on a smaller grill next to the big one, and Martinson cooking the baked potatoes, that leaves Jim and Jan Martin to serve the food and collect the money.

"It would be nice if we had a couple of other volunteers to help out, especially when we've got full tables," Martin said.

Overall, Martin said he and his volunteer crew will keep the steak fry going during the warm parts of the year for as long as the community wants it.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at