WELLFLEET — The Wellfleet OysterFest has been reinvented this year as a virtual celebration versus the usual two-day street party that takes over downtown Wellfleet and typically draws some 20,000 people the weekend after Columbus Day.
Organized by Wellfleet Shellfish Promotion and Tasting (aka S.P.A.T.), this year’s in-person edition of the fest was canceled due to the pandemic, so you can’t stand around slurping oysters and drinking beer with your friends, nor can you peruse the scores of arts vendors who normally line Main Street and beyond, however, the online version will feature celebrity chefs, music and workshops in a kind of virtual jubilee.
The party will culminate with the 20th annual Wellfleet OysterFest All Star Shuck Off, a re-imagining of the event’s wildly popular oyster shucking contest, showcasing 10 legendary shuckers from the past 19 years who will go head to head for what’s being called the ultimate crown.
This year’s mantra: The Shuck Must Go On!
The competition event will be live-streamed on YouTube starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17 – the traditional weekend for the event, from the filming location at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.
A link to the stream will be posted on the website, wellfleetspat.org, and on the group’s social channels, @wellfleetspat on Facebook and Instagram, said Michele Insley, executive director of S.P.A.T.
Featured hosts include award-winning chef and author Ming Tsai, host of Emmy-nominated cooking show “Simply Ming” and founder of Boston restaurants Blue Dragon and Blue Ginger; rising culinary star Elle Simone Scott, test chef and food stylist on America’s Test Kitchen and the founder of SheChef, a mentoring organization for women of color in the culinary field, and James Beard Award-winning chef Jamie Bissonette, partner of Boston favorites Toro, Coppa and Little Donkey.
The chefs will share their favorite recipes for Wellfleet oysters and cooking tips throughout the event.
Cape Cod’s own G. Love will headline as the event’s musical guest, with exclusive music videos filmed in famous Wellfleet locations.
After the crowning of the winning oyster shucker, the top shuckers will be joined on stage by S.P.A.T. Board Member and entertainer Jodi Birchall.
Two short films about Wellfleet’s history as the heart of American oyster growing and the community’s bonds with its shellfish farmers and wild harvesters will also premiere at the event. The creative team for the new films was composed of local talent.
Director and editor Justin Lynch and graphic designer Andrew Jacob, both Wellfleet oyster farmers, were joined by executive producer Liz Shook, who will also produce the virtual OysterFest event, and writer/creative director Edward Boches, both of Brewster.
“We were fortunate to have some of the best talent working together to produce films about Wellfleet – the home of the Quintessential American Oyster – and about the rich history of our shellfishing industry,” said Insley.
Stellwagen Symphonette of Orleans is scoring the music for both films and assisting with music for the event.
In addition to the event’s virtual entertainment, the 2020 Wellfleet OysterFest will include a series of online “Learn to Shuck” workshops via Zoom, and an online auction, with proceeds going toward S.P.A.T’s mission and support of the local shellfishing industry and community.
Learn more about all of the offerings at wellfleetspat.org.
A recipe for you
Taken from the OysterFest web site, here’s a fun recipe to try using just-harvested Wellfleet oysters: