As the event grew, Brown says, organizers continually took input from both the shellfishing and the larger Wellfleet community. Brown—who describes herself as a school teacher first, musician second, and casual shellfisher third—is particularly proud of the grants and scholarships the fest has been able to fund, which includes an annual $10,000 scholarship to a graduating Nauset Regional High School senior who plans to study some aspect of seaside eco-sustainability. The scholarship provides the recipient with $2,500 per year for four years. “This whole event is about promoting awareness of Wellfleet and our shellfish and artist community,” Alex adds. “This helps us raise money to keep these artisanal cultures alive and sustainable for years to come.”
With an ever-broader shoulder season, the lead-up to the Wellfleet OysterFest extends the bustle of summer. Its culmination puts an exclamation point on things. “It’s like a fall homecoming,” says Alex. “Then the crowds go away, and we un-build everything. We put the pieces back in the box. We clean up and put everything back exactly the way it was before anything happened, back to Wellfleet Center.”
“When it’s over it’s like you can feel the whole town exhale,” says Elspeth Hay. “The season is a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and OysterFest is the end of all that. It’s bittersweet in a lot of ways, but it’s the perfect last hurrah.”
For information on this year’s Wellfleet OysterFest, go to www.wellfleetoysterfest.org.
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