No recreational park is complete without recreational activities. In early day nudist camps all over the country, one sport quickly established itself as the “official” sport of nudism. Yes, volleyball, of course! Here was a sport that did not require elaborate facilities and expensive equipment; a court could be set up quickly, occupying a small area of land; and even people with minimal athletic skill could participate to some degree. But volleyball was not the only sporting activity at nudist camps. A few other activities also required a minimum of area and facilities – horseshoes, badminton, and, with a little concrete work, shuffleboard.
While some nudists were basking in the sun and enjoying the fun and games associated with this newfound lifestyle, others were devoting their time and talents to some serious and very important concerns. If Fraternity Snoqualmie and other clubs were to stay in existence, close attention to organizational and administrative affairs was essential. Although the various clubs were basically autonomous, it was apparent that many problems were common to all clubs and could best be handled on a national or regional level. This meant affiliation. And, of course, there would have to be national and regional meetings attended by delegates from the various clubs. What do we call such meetings? Conventions!
“Let’s go to the convention! While the delegates meet and discuss important matters of business, the rest of us can mingle with nudists from other clubs; establish new friendships; and challenge them to games of volleyball, horseshoes, or badminton!”
Quickly, the nudist conventions became far more than business meetings. There were competitive sports with trophies for the winners. There was a “royal family” consisting of a king, a queen, a prince, and a princess. There were children’s games, a Saturday evening “talent show”, and great food.
Yes, conventions provided a great opportunity for nude recreation, sports competition, and camaraderie, as well as a source of revenue for the host clubs. But the country was divided into five or six regions and each convention was held once a year. This meant that only one convention a year, or two at most, were at nearby camps. “Why wait for a convention? Let’s have a special event at our camp every year. There won’t be any business meetings, just fun and games!” So began a great nudist tradition – interclub events. Each event had a theme – Nudist Olympics, Strawberry Festival, Roundup, Rustic Days. People would drive for hours, keeping their eyes open for an obscure dirt road which led to a camp much like the one at home. They would pitch their tents, park their trailers, or move into rental units for the weekend.
Whatever the “theme” of an event might have been, they followed nearly identical formats – competitions, entertainment, food, and just plain sunbathing. To include more people in the “royal family” competitions, additional categories were created – senior king and queen, junior prince and princess, tot prince and princess, and on at least one occasion, court jester. What did the royal families do? Not much. They’d just stand around looking cute while wearing their crowns and mini robes.
Fraternity Snoqualmie had hosted several regional conventions, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the club jumped on the interclub special event bandwagon. This was a time when the Seattle Seafair and the hydroplane races were at the peak of their popularity. On warm sunny weekends in early August, members stayed away from Camp Forestia, choosing instead to view the races, live or on television. Ideas began to jell in the minds of some of our more enterprising members. “Let’s encourage our members to watch the races on TV at the camp instead of at home. Good idea! Let’s make it a special event!” The plans escalated. “We’ll invite other clubs! Sports competitions! Trophies! A royal family! A talent show! Food! Salmon, of course! What should we call it? Fraternity Snoqualmie Seafair Festival!”
The response was overwhelming. Nudists came to Camp Forestia from all over the Northwest; from California; from Canada; from You-name-it. The motif was nautical. Decorations included nets with glass floats, starfish, conch shells. Even the king and queen had names – King Neptune and Queen Marina. There was no court jester, but there were pirates. While the royal family stood around looking cute, the pirates with their headscarves, toy swords, and fake tattoos stood around looking ferocious. A few people actually watched the races on TV. But most people completely forgot what had precipitated this event in the first place and concentrated on more typical nudist activities.
The salmon was cooked over a bed of red hot, smoky alder coals. There were no briquettes, no propane, and certainly no painted nor treated scrap lumber. It was alder, not fir, not hemlock, not cedar, just real alder from the surrounding forest.
For years, our Seafair Festival was one of the Northwest’s must popular nudist interclub events. But all things pass and, as time went on, the popularity of interclub events began to fade. Then the “gas crisis” of 1974 dealt a nearly fatal blow to such events. After waiting in line for an hour or more to buy a tank of gasoline, nudists would say, “Why should I burn up half a tank of gas to go to another nudist park?” As quickly as it had started, the gas crisis ended. But cross-country nudist travel never fully resumed. There was some concern that “Seafair” was a copyrighted name and the FS Seafair Festival was renamed “Forestia Fest”. The event had lost much of its appeal.
A new concept in nudist events was in the offing – semi public events. Here was an opportunity to introduce the public to nudism by way of clothing-optional sporting activity and music festivals. Forestia Fest and many other interclub events faded away completely. We aren’t saying that things have gotten worse. Perhaps the new concept is a step forward. Time will tell. But the old way has nearly vanished. Gone are the trophies, gone are the royal families, gone are the talent shows. It’s the end of an era.