I went to the windy, crowded, cold and delicious (for the most part) Wellfleet Oyster fest last weekend and appreciated being in the diverse company of others who made a similar effort for chowing down on raw local oysters.
There were some good and bad takes on other methods of preparation. Mel's did a mediocre rendition of oyster stew and clam chowder, very little seafood or flavor for $8.00 and $7.00 respectively. By contrast, the vendor in front of the Lighthouse delivered a delicious oyster stew for $8.00, and Hatches had a nice half-bowl of clam chowder for $3.00. The fried oysters and clams from a vendor under the big white tent were very skimpy by any standard, over-priced and sub-par for $12.99 and $14.99, respectively.
Our favorite raw oysters were from the Wellfleet Oyster Co. @$18.00/dozen and Hatches@ $15.00/dozen, delicious, salty/sweet, firm, yum. We tried others but couldn't remember the names of the vendors, less memorable. We were afraid we would be standing in lines for ages, but there were an amazing number of vendors and hard-working shuckers, so it was more a matter of how many one wanted to eat and pay for, with prices ranging between $1.25 - $1.50/Wellfleet oyster.
We went to two very interesting talks, the first by the author of "The Famous Beds of Wellfleet", written by Historical Society member David Wright, a very interesting speaker and writer about the history of oysters along the northestern seaboard. He captured the character of the times and the local area.
The second was a "Taste of Terroir" workshop on the diversity of oysters within Wellfleet, lead by Bill Walton from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Very interesting difference in taste were based on location within Wellfleet, dependant on tides and sea, nature only supported by good nurture. All the oysters served were identified by grower and location, and all were delicious.
These talks were a highlight of the weekend.
There was a fun shucking contest on the main stage, and the diverse spectators ranged from the only-there-for-the-party beer and sausage folks to the ultra-serious oyster people - something for everyone. Lots of vendors, but many in support of good causes.
Traffic and parking was handled well by buses serving beach parking lots, and we finished the weekend with white clam pizza and beer with good music from a little restaurant across the street across from the Masonic Hall - I'll post the name once I find it.
In all, I ate alot and learned alot. We plan to return and seek out other oyster fests that were unavoidably missed this year.