WELLFLEET – We have loved the Wellfleet Oysterfest for years. We have long spread the word to family, friends and our Cape Cod Wave readers that it is the best event of the fall on Cape Cod. This year at the new venue, Baker Field, instead of in the center of town, was, in some ways, a disappointment.
Planning an event of this size is certainly a challenge and our hats are off to the organizers, the numerous volunteers, and to the nonprofit SPAT (Shellfish Promotion and Tasting, Inc.) that puts on the event, for all their good work. We’re sure they will get the kinks out of the event for future years as this was the first year at a new venue.
Our dread about the new venue began with the new parking plan–required parking at three beach lots on the other side of town. Two of the lots were full when we arrived, so we parked at the third one, Newcomb Hollow Beach.
We arrived to find a line of about 60 people who had already been waiting some time for a bus. We proceeded to wait another half hour standing in line for buses to arrive. By then there were about 130 people in line. Two buses arrived and the second one stopped mid-line and began to let people in. That resulted in raised voices and much consternation as people in the first half of the line panicked that they would not fit in either bus after waiting upwards of 45 minutes.
Thankfully, things calmed down a bit and the buses filled up without any fisticuffs. The two buses left about 30 people still at the beach lot who needed to wait for the next bus.
The bus let us off in the harbor parking lot and we walked to Baker Field which was already getting very muddy with thousands of people. Lines to get oysters were about a half hour long and there seemed to be fewer oyster vendors than in previous years. Lines for food and beverages were also quite long. We don’t recall any extreme long lines for oysters or food in past years.
But the longest lines were, unfortunately, for the ATMs which were working very sporadically or not at all. This was unfortunate because the lack of cell service meant that the vendors were mostly not able to take credit cards. The wait to get cash took about an hour. That added up to two-and-a-half hours of standing in line during our four hours at the event.
By the way and no small thing, everyone from the bus drivers to the shuckers to the vendors were incredibly nice and friendly in the face of what must have been a fairly stressful day because of the new venue with such large crowds.
We would have liked to visit shops on Main Street in Wellfleet as we usually do during the Oysterfest when it was located right on Main Street, but we ran out of time with all the standing in line. With the new venue located a 15-minute or so walk to get to the center of town, there was no time to get there before the end of the afternoon. By the end of the event, we finally found the vendor area at the far end of the field. There were some excellent crafters and we wished we had seen them earlier.
We hope this is taken as constructive criticism about an event we love: For next time, more buses; volunteers stationed at beach parking lots to give information to crowds; more oyster vendors; better signage; tell everyone to bring cash; more ATM machines.
That being said, once we had our oysters (delicious, of course) and our food (also delicious) and we were able to enjoy the fun music of The Value Leaders, it started to feel like the old Oysterfest, as this video attests.
– For all of our past Wellfleet Oysterfest stories, click HERE.
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Hope next year is not held at the field. Please move back to previous location. A muddy, slippery mess this year, for both patrons and vendors. So much for dressing up, your cute boots or heels would not survive! So much nicer in Wellfleet center with pavement under foot and tent, and the quaint atmosphere.