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Autumn is my favorite time of year. The days are shorter and the nights darker. The beautiful foliage falls from the trees, and the fresh, crisp air pats my face. 

I feel repressed during October because I can’t see any trees, feel the dead leaves in my hands or hear them crunch beneath my feet, so many, many years ago I started a prison tradition: Octoberfeast. 

On Halloween night I make a big platter of nachos while listening to songs for the occasion like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil,” Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” Creed’s “What If,” Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”

Over the years, I’ve passed down my tradition and more people began celebrating, but many of us were separated after the riot at Crossroads Correctional Center a few years ago. (That year it snowed outside while I listened to my Octoberfeast playlist and prepared the nacho platter. It was a beautiful occasion.) 

But a friend has since carried on the Octoberfeast tradition at his new location at Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center. I have received word every year that the number of people celebrating has been growing. 

Madness consumes them and their stomachs howl with hunger as their eyes fixate upon the heap of salty goodness. From that moment, men pledge their loyalty to partake in the festival and my nachos.

On this Octoberfeast, I’m planning to watch the movie “Joker” on TNT, at 6 p.m. Are you brave enough to pledge to partake in this year’s festival and become a follower of my tradition? If so, see my recipe below. 


(serving size: one brave follower)

1 bag of Tortilla Chips (18 oz)
1 package of spicy refried beans (8 oz)
1 package of beef summer sausage (5 oz)
1 bag of Sweet Sue white chicken (7 oz)
1 bag of Brushy Creek Chili (11.25 oz )
½ sharp cheddar cheese squeeze bottle (16 oz)
1 kosher pickle
1 bag of green olives
1 mozzarella cheese stick
1 picante sauce
2 ranch dressing packets
(optional: one fresh onion if available)

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Zachary A. Smith

Zachary A. Smith is a writer and artist incarcerated in Missouri. He has studied law for over 20 years and has earned a paralegal degree with distinction from Blackstone Career Institute. He is the author of the “Smith’s Guide” series. His latest additions to the series are “Smith’s Guide to State Habeas Corpus Relief for State Prisoners” and “Smith’s Guide to Second or Successive Habeas Corpus Relief for State and Federal Prisoners.”