The Wellfleet OysterFest has evolved into a weekend-long, family-fun event but food is front and center at this celebration of town’s famous shellfish and those who make a living growing and harvesting them.
The Wellfleet OysterFest has evolved over the years into a weekend-long, family-fun event that celebrates the town’s famous shellfish and those who make a living growing and harvesting them. Since the festival is an ode to bivalves, it makes sense that food is a front-and-center part of the activities. Here are some of the delicious highlights:
Oysters and wine: This year, OysterFest has expanded to Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster for a Friday-night event titled, “A Sampling of Merroir & Terroir” (merroir refers to things from the sea; terroir means “a sense of place”). Wellfleet oysterman Andrew Cummings and wine enthusiast Michael Rose will preside over the pairing of oysters and wine.
“It will start with a clam raw bar where people can try some Wellfleet clams with a glass of sparkling wine, and then they’ll get three flights of oysters paired with wine and they’ll hear about the wines and they’ll hear about what is involved in shellfish farming,” says Michele Insley, executive director of Wellfleet SPAT.
Tickets are $65, including a donation to SPAT.
An expanded version of the event will take place at Wellfleet Preservation Hall the following day. Diane Murphy, a Barnstable County Cooperative Extension Fisheries and Aquaculture specialist will join Cummings and Rose to talk about the life cycle of the oyster and the unique and subtle differences between oysters grown in different parts of Wellfleet Bay. Rose will discuss how different wines can enhance and accentuate the different oysters.
Tickets are $100 and include admission to the OysterFest on Saturday.
Clams and wine: Wellfleet’s other shellfish will be honored with “Clam I Am,” a presentation and tasting of clams. Shellfish farmer Alfred Pickard will discuss how the local waters allow clams to thrive. Derek Langlois, executive chef at Van Rensselaer’s Restaurant & Raw Bar will prepare clams three ways: raw, steamed and clams casino.
The clams will be paired with wines from Portugal and Spain. Participants will learn how clams are cultivated and how size affects flavor. They will also receive recipes to prepare the samples at home.
Tickets are $35 and include admission to the OysterFest on Saturday.
“She has memories of enjoying shellfish with drawn butter on the New England coast,” Insley says. “The idea is to combine butter and shellfish in a soup that is both comforting and luxurious. It’s definitely a big hit at Menton and I’m sure it’s going to be awesome here at the ’Fest.”
Lynch will also be on hand to sign copies of her new memoir, “Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire.”
Tickets are $75 per person, including a copy of the book or $60 per person without. Tickets include admission to the OysterFest on Sunday.
Fine spirits: Brewery manager Jennifer Glanville from Samuel Adams Boston Brewery will return with this year’s version of Wellfleet Oyster Stout, made using fresh Wellfleet oysters. Each year, Samuel Adams brews this special beer just for the OysterFest, so you can only try it here and at a few restaurants in town. Samuel Adams will also offer other beer varieties for those who are less adventurous. Truro Vineyards will also serve fine wines to compliment the food served from vendors.
Proud Pour wine manufacturer will offer a tasting of its wine, with a portion of the proceeds going to Wellfleet’s oyster restoration efforts, which the dedicated-to-the-environment company has helped with for several years.
“All the shells that we collect at OysterFest get wintered over for the year, and then next spring they go back into the harbor for our own restoration efforts to increase habitat for shellfish and other marine species,” Insley says. “The more habitat we have, the healthier water quality we have.”
More festivities: There will also be food vendors, raw bars run by shell fishermen, live music, a fine arts and crafts show, educational opportunities, children’s activities and a road race.
“The OysterFest gives people the opportunity to closely connect with the people who are actually growing and harvesting this product,” Insley says. “Our mission is really to create awareness so that people can appreciate and help protect our marine ecosystem.”