By Reenat Sinay GLOBE CORRESPONDENT OCTOBER 14, 2016
If you’re headed to the Wellfleet OysterFest this weekend, you might be surprised to learn that there will be no raw oysters served.
The state has closed all shellfish beds in the Cape Cod town because of an outbreak of suspected norovirus illness that is believed to be linked to consumption of shellfish from that area, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Shellfish harvested from the area has also been recalled, the department said in an advisory issued Wednesday.
Organizers of the OysterFest said they have decided not serve any raw oysters during the two-day event that starts on Saturday.
“Public safety has always been our top priority, whether it be in crowd management or health issues,” Alex Hay, a board member of Wellfleet SPAT, the group that runs the OysterFest. SPAT is an acronym for Shellfish Promotion and Tasting, Inc., a nonprofit that promotes the town’s shellfish and aquaculture industry.
The festival’s most popular event, the Shuck Off contest, will go on as planned using oysters sourced from other towns, according to Wellfleet SPAT.
And there is still plenty of fish and seafood for sampling, such as conch fritters, fish tacos, steamed mussels. There will also be pumpkin bisque, among other delicacies.
There will also be a range of arts and crafts, live music by local performers, and locally-made beer and wine tasting, the statement said.
“This is just one year of the ‘Fest and what we care about most is running a safe and fun festival,” said Michele Insley, executive director of SPAT. “We also value the long-term sustainability of our town’s second highest revenue producer, shellfishing, so we are erring on the side of caution.”
The 16th annual Wellfleet OysterFest will be held on Oct. 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reenat Sinay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.