SPAT (Shellfish Promotion and Tasting)
Wellfleet SPAT is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization that produces and promotes the Wellfleet OysterFest®. The mission of the organization is to foster interest in Wellfleet’s rich shellfishing industry. Our mission also includes supporting the Town of Wellfleet by educating the greater community about the benefits and value of its aquaculture history. This support takes the form of grants and scholarships awarded to local individuals or groups pursuing careers in the shellfishing industry or related fields, and in addition, the organization supports deserving causes and other organizations with a close tie to SPAT’s mission. Part of SPAT’s goal is also to support local individuals whose efforts and educational mission increases awareness of this important part of the community’s livelihood. Each May, SPAT awards a scholarship to a graduating Nauset Regional High School student pursuing four years of higher learning in aquaculture or a related field.
SPAT Board of Directors
The board of directors dedicates itself not just on planning the OysterFest, but on ensuring the organization’s mission is carried out to its fullest potential. The all-volunteer board is made up of eight elected members with three elected officers. Together as a group, the board represents individuals who are committed to the success of OysterFest and invested in the positive public perception of the Town of Wellfleet. Board members also draw from a diversity of professional experiences and disciplines that represent a unique mix of understanding, knowledge and skills that help direct the organization in the most beneficial way. Members come from the fields of education, the shellfishing industry, area businesses, for profit sectors and professional associations. The balance of the board member’s individual strengths and professional experiences, combined with their vested interest in the Town of Wellfleet and SPAT’s mission, are part of the reason why SPAT as an organization has been successful, and why the Wellfleet OysterFest has become a successful event.
The Wellfleet OysterFest®
In its sixteenth year, the Wellfleet OysterFest is the premiere event sponsored and produced by SPAT. OysterFest is made possible through collaboration with the Town of Wellfleet, the support of many generous businesses and sponsors, the shellfishermen and women of Wellfleet, and a dedicated group of board members along with hundreds of volunteers. Although the OysterFest takes place on the weekend after Columbus Day, planning and evaluation of the annual event continues throughout the year. The board and staff meet soon after the ‘Fest to assess its success and continued viability. The board looks at issues around operations, vendor participation, revenue generation, educational and entertainment programming and coordination.
Proceeds from the Wellfleet OysterFest support the running of the festival, pay for educational programming during the ‘Fest and throughout the year, and fund grants, scholarships and other events that promote the mission of the organization. This report outlines the many ways in which SPAT and the Wellfleet OysterFest benefit the community as a whole. These benefits have impact beyond increasing awareness of the aquaculture and shellfishing industry in the area, but also positively impact in important ways and through measurable contributions the economic health and growth of the entire area.
Nauset Regional High School Scholarships
Every year SPAT awards a $2,500 scholarship to a qualified and deserving Nauset Regional High School senior who chooses to pursue a career related to the shell fishing industry. The $2,500 award continues for each year the student continues his/her studies and maintains a grade point of 3.0 up to four years. Thus, every year a total of $10,000 is awarded to four students currently participating in the scholarship program. This commitment has contributed to the launching of exciting professional careers and has played an important part in encouraging
students to further their education, foster their entrepreneurial spirit and realize their career aspirations. To date, over $80,750 has been awarded.
More information is on the College Scholarship page.
SPAT welcomes, evaluates and approves grants to individuals and business that demonstrate that their product, service, or artistic, business, or educational program fulfills in some way, some piece of the SPAT mission or benefits the Town of Wellfleet or shellfishing industry as a whole. SPAT dedicates 25% of its annual net revenue to these grants. The board of directors evaluates and votes on requests for funding on an ongoing basis.
To date, $368,500 has been awarded to 36 individuals or organizations.
More information is on the Community Grant Awards page.
SPAT and the Wellfleet OysterFest benefit Wellfleet and the surrounding Cape communities with tremendous revenue generated by the thousands attending the ‘Fest annually.
Extension of the Tourism Season
Cape businesses depend heavily on the peak revenue months of July and August to exist. Retailers, restaurants, hotels and businesses agree that extending the season beyond Columbus Day with an event such as the Wellfleet OysterFest provides has significant impact on additional revenue that allows them to stay open longer. Many businesses now stay open beyond Labor Day in anticipation of the OysterFest. With predictable crowds now ranging between 20,000 and 23,000, conservative estimates project that between $2 million and $4 million tourism dollars are spent locally during the event.
“It would be catastrophic to my restaurant if the OysterFest ceased to happen. My ability to survive and be open during the shoulder season is absolutely dependent on the top-grossing revenue from the weekend of the Wellfleet OysterFest.” Tracey Barry Hunt, General Manager, Winslow’s Tavern
The non profit fair at the ‘Fest provides a venue for national, regional and local environmental organizations such as the National Seashore and Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary along with Wellfleet community service organizations such as the Wellfleet Preschool and the affordable housing group to promote their missions, fund raise and recruit new members and volunteers.
“Many, many thanks for allowing Habitat to come and take part in your wonderful festival today. We sold three times as many raffle tickets as on our biggest day at any other event where we raffle our kayak……it was phenomenal. It seemed like the whole event was a big success even though we didn’t get the chance to look around as we were so busy taking money! Thanks again!” Andrea Johnson, Habitat for Humanity.
Outer Cape Business Community
The great influx of thousands of visitors generates tremendous revenue as a whole via the ripple effect to the Wellfleet and Outer Cape business community.
• Lodging establishment booked to capacity months in advance from Orleans to Provincetown.
• Rental income for residents averages $1,500 for the weekend.
• Increased number of potential new home buyers and renters.
• Local restaurants and bars report top-grossing weekend of the year.
• Increased patronage of movie theaters, museums, the National Seashore, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and other cultural attractions.
• Increased demand for cottage industry services including housekeeping.
• Sales tax revenue generated.
Promotion as a Vacation Destination
20,000 visitors experiencing our vibrant, cultural, community-focused municipality in one of the most spectacular settings on the planet leave with an overwhelmingly positive impression that is in itself a huge word-of-mouth marketing benefit.
The board of directors of SPAT looks forward to building on the success of our mission, values, and of course, the tremendous success of the Wellfleet OysterFest. The event is heavily reliant on the support of area businesses, the Town of Wellfleet, and dozens of volunteers. We work diligently to produce an event that is not only fun and educational, but honors our unique town, its residents, its contribution to a vital economy, and of course, honors its famous Wellfleet oysters and clams.