This weekend is the annual Wellfleet Oyster Festival. It started out tiny just eight years ago, now it attracts 20 - 30,000 people to town over the course of the weekend. That's ten times the size of the year-round population! There will be a shucking contest*, live music, various cooking demonstrations, a tour of the oyster flats, a 5k road race and something like 100,000 Wellfleet oysters will be consumed over the course of the two days. It's fun to see that many people in town and the organizers and volunteers do an amazing job with set-up and clean up. On Monday morning there will be no trace that anything unusual happened over the weekend.
A less fun ritual is the annual closing of the seasonal restaurants. As much as we look forward to them opening each spring, we dread them closing in the fall. We know it has to happen, the local population just can't support that many restaurants. Also, the owners and staff are exhausted and many of the buildings that house the restaurants are unheated which makes them unsuitable for year-round use. Still, we miss having the options both for ourselves and as places to refer our guests.
Some of the restaurants closed last weekend, most of the rest that close will do so this Sunday. One or two others will hang on for another week or two, but by the beginning of November we will be down to three or four restaurants in town and that will not improve until April. On the positive side, there is the chance to socialize with some of our friends who own those restaurants and who we don't see during the busy season unless we go out to eat.
I enjoy the rhythm of life here, it is as inevitable and predictable as the tides.
*Congratulations to Wellfleet's own William "Chopper" Young, winner of the World Oyster Shucking Championship.