Article and photos By Michael and Tracy Horgan
First appearing in Nude & Natural 27.3 - Spring 2008. Published by The Naturist Society.

Paul Asselin Cooks Up The Sausage For The Spaghetti Sauce.

In the small, western Massachusetts town of Hancock, the members of Berkshire Vista Resort have celebrated the end of summer for the past 25 years with a one-of-a-kind celebration called Spaghetto. Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of the camping season, and this celebration brings together past and present members, as well as lots of weekend visitors. It has become the most memorable weekend of the summer for many at the resort. Some visitors have become members after spending the Labor Day weekend. Some have even become engaged during the event. Others are left trying to remember what happened the day before. The one certainty of the weekend is that it’s always filled with friends who are practically family, great food, good times, and lots of laughter.

The Line Forms Here: Ready, Set, Serve!

The Spaghetto Culinary Experts.

Berkshire Vista, located on the Massachusetts/New York state line, was opened as a nudist campground in the 1950s. Since then, the camp has gone through several different owners and club names. The current owners, Dan and Virginia Bookstein, purchased the resort in 1994 and have run the facility for the past 13 years. It’s snuggled in the Berkshires with amazing views of the scenic mountains surrounding the camp. Situated on 122 acres of hillside property, the resort includes 142 permanent campsites for trailers and RVs, a pool, hot tubs, tennis courts, volleyball court, p»tanque courts, horseshoe area, and clubhouse.

Berkshire Vista is located in the heart of the Berkshires, close to many premier summer attractions. Tanglewood (Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home) and Stockbridge (made famous by Norman Rockwell and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) are only a few minutes drive from the camp. The Berkshire Mountains were once home to the summer cottages of the Rockefellers, Stokes, and Carnegies, to name a few. The super wealthy from New York and Boston summered in the cool mountain air that blanketed the Berkshires during summer nights. Many of the famous summer cottages of the turn of the century wealthy now host summer concerts, dance, and theatrical events. Presently they are a year-around destination for local and international travelers who come for the cultural and natural attractions. The resort can be reached by taking Route 43 to Kittle Road and continuing approximately 1.5 miles to the end of the road.

The 300+ Satisfied Spaghetti Eaters Huddle Together For A Group Photo.

The nudist campground was initially situated on the lower portion of what is now the Berkshire Vista property. Seasonal campers in tents, and then pop-ups were located near a communal fire pit. The campsites began moving up the hill in the 1980s as membership increased and campers upgraded from tents to full size hardtop campers. Two fields developed: Snob Hill was the home of those who had, literally, moved up and were looking down onto the lower field; the lower portion became known as the Ghetto. The third and highest field, Heaven, was opened in the 1990s and was appropriately named because it is situated at the top of a steep hill, and some say, closer to heaven.

In 1981 members of the Ghetto wanted to make their last weekend of the season–Labor Day weekend–special. The idea was to prepare a community meal. Everyone had spaghetti on hand because it didn’t go bad. It was an easy meal to make and could be prepared without much notice. Those factors made it the ideal choice, and "Spaghetto" was a natural name for a spaghetti meal in the Ghetto. The meal was simple: salad, garlic bread, and spaghetti. Participants contributed the ingredients, and about eight people prepared the meal.

This Year’s 60 Spaghetto Volunteers Kick Off The Meal With A Toast.

The meal soon became an annual tradition. Members looked forward to the boisterous gathering each year and began inviting their friends and families. As each year passed, the community of members got better and better at staging the event. The year 1993 marked the first year of specialized jobs: their own group of volunteers handled salad, garlic bread, sauce, and spaghetti preparation. It was also the first year of planning in advance for the subsequent Spaghetto.

Preparation and planning is key to the success of the event. A few devoted Ghettoians spend winter, spring, and summer months scouting for good deals on the non-perishable items. Pasta and canned goods are purchased and stored away. Sausage and meatballs are frozen during the months preceding the event. Members even plant many of the items in their gardens so that homegrown fresh foods are used.

Spaghetto has grown in size since 1981 from 100 meals served to 300-plus. No one could have predicted the longevity and success of this spaghetti dinner when it began. Tickets for Spaghetto are sold up to eight weeks in advance so that the appropriate amount of perishable food can be purchased in the days preceding the dinner. Price of admission for the 25th annual Spaghetto ranged from $8 plus a jar of sauce per adult (kids eat free), to $10 per person without a jar of sauce. Contributions of clear alcohol are accepted for use in the famed Ghetto Punch. Advance tickets are encouraged and available at the lower rate up until the end of August. T-shirts for the event were available in early July for $15/each.

Herman & Carla Getting Down To The Music.

  Spaghetto By The Numbers  
T-shirts Sold:205
Volunteers:up to 60
Meals Served:330
Serving Time: 90 minutes
Salad Prep Time:47 minutes
Sauce Prep Time:  5 hours
Lettuce (Romaine & Iceberg):  24 heads
Tomatoes:10 pounds
Mushrooms:  8 pounds
Cheddar Cheese:10 pounds
Croutons:  3 large bags
Salad Dressing:10 large bottles
Garlic Bread:34 loaves
Pasta:54 pounds
Charcoal (sausage):20 pounds
Sausage (Hot and Sweet):70 pounds
Pepperoni:  6 pounds
Meatballs (Turkey):55 pounds
Jars of Sauce:up to 200

Paul Jams To The Music.

Supplies on hand and ready-to-go, preparations for Spaghetto begin around 8 AM on the day of the event. Volunteers gather to erect the tent that covers the serving line, arrange and cover serving tables beneath the tent, and stake out the line itself. The fire in the pit, where sauce and pasta are cooked, is started and covered with a grate. The nine cooks begin preparations for the sauce and pasta by coating the outside of large pots with dish detergent to prevent soot buildup. By 10 AM, cooks begin sorting and emptying the many jars of sauce contributed by attendees into large pots to be heated. By 11 AM, the four people assigned to garlic bread begin its preparation, while sixteen others begin salad prep. The extensive list of salad ingredients are chopped manually and by food processors. Various clear alcohols, fruit punch, and other secret ingredients are combined to make the famous Ghetto Punch. By 1:30 PM, the serving tables have salad offerings lined up and ready, garlic bread is cut, finishing touches are put on the sauce, and pasta is warmed for serving.

The main event of Spaghetto, the meal itself, is kicked off with a toast made by the nearly 60 volunteers for the event. The line for food forms and snakes its way up the hill. Each guest is greeted by a stamper. The stampers take tickets and officially welcome each guest with a fun stamp. The stampers enjoy greeting everyone and stamp liberally for added effect. Next in line are the volunteers who provide bowls and utensils. Following is the long line of salad fixings: lettuce, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, artichokes, raisins, pepperocinis, zucchini, broccoli, radishes, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, shredded cheese, croutons, and more. Guests are offered garlic bread to compliment the meal, and then move on to receive pasta and sauce. There are two choices for the sauce: regular or diablo (hot). Meatballs can be added to either. The last stop in the serving line is for parmesan cheese. All along the way, guests are served with a smile and a kiss, making the serving line a very happy place to be. The theme of Spaghetto–coming together to celebrate friendship and a great summer season–is felt throughout the event.

The Darryl Brothers, Darrylettes, And Darrylee Entertain The Crowd After The Meal.

Live entertainment is another mainstay in the Spaghetto experience. A local band, Electric Lipstick, performed for both the 24th and 25th Spaghettos. Located on a stage above the crowd, the band crooned songs to the audience in the Ghetto for over five hours in 2007. The lawn filled with people who were dancing and in high spirits. An annual feature during the band’s break is the show by the Darryl Brothers, the Darrylettes, and Darrylee.

These Ghettoians provide the crowd with comic relief as they lip sync songs on air guitars in their colorful leopard print outfits. A surprise event for the 25th anniversary was a marriage proposal–in front of the entire crowd.

Labor Day morning is another special time for the Spaghetto volunteers. The communal breakfast features omelets, pancakes, baked goods, delicious homemade jams, and other contributions. Volunteers share stories from the previous day’s events, memories of the season, and plans for getting together in the winter. It’s the perfect ending to a weekend, a season, 25 years, of good times, great food, and friends who are practically family. And the planning begins for next year’s Spaghetto.

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