NASHUA -- MAY GAMBLE figures she's been to every Spaghetti City, the annual community pasta feast cooked and served by Nashua's Rotary Club West, except for one.
"It's excellent, and it gets better year after year," said Gamble who was planning to take a dish of pasta home to her son.
The Rotary Club West started the tradition 38 years ago. Awhile back, it was a fundraiser for the club's many community service projects. But now that Rotary West holds its mega rib fest at the start of the summer, Spaghetti City has become an annual event more about fellowship than funds.
About 500 dinners are cooked and served each year, and while local seniors always show up in force, there were plenty of couples and families enjoying the food and company.
Held at the Senior Activity Center in downtown Nashua, there was a constant line of hungry guests stretching from the dining room to the door.
"We've changed a few things over time," said former club president Frank Vumbaco, who said the Paisano Sauce Contest started nine years ago.
Five different Rotary Clubs were entered in this years cook off.
"We have sauces from the three Rotary Clubs in Nashua, and I think the other entries are from Milford and the Hollis/Brookline club," he said.
Nashua has three different Rotary Clubs, the original Nashua Rotary, Rotary West and Souhegan Rotary Club, Vumbaco said.
"But the thing you have to remember is, West is the best," he added with a laugh.
Although club members work hard, they seem to enjoy the night as much as their guests. And they love to brag, not so much about themselves, but about their fellow club members.
Vumbaco said one of the key reasons for Spaghetti City's success is the sauce, which John Tamposi, owner of the Crown Plaza Hotel, and Tim Hogan, the plaza's general manager, bring from their kitchen.
"It's a nice community event," said club secretary Lee Allison, who was at the door selling tickets to Spaghetti City. "Rotary's motto is 'Service above self,' and we like to give back.