By all counts, this past weekend’s Essex ClamFest was once again a rousing success.
With some 2,000 people passing through — and nearly 1,000 of them ante-ing up to not only sample helpings of clam chowder, but to cast votes for the People’s Choice award as well — the event served as a true celebration of the shellfish for which Essex is best known.
But it also served as much more than that. And Susan Lufkin of the host Essex Division of the sponsoring Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce was right to recognize that.
In commenting on the crowds and the ClamFest’s general celebratory spirit, Lufkin also noted that “it seemed as if a lot of people were walking around Essex afterward, too.” And that indeed is a big part of what ClamFest and other such events are all about.
Whether it’s ClamFest, Rockport’s HarvestFest, or Gloucester’s Gran Prix cyclocross races, each of these “destination” events — and all have truly become that, drawing a wide range of visitors as well as locals — provide a boost for local businesses, and all fall after Labor Day, when Cape Ann’s full influx of visitors has begun to wane.
Yes, ClamFest offers a special chance for winners of the chowder taste-off to celebrate, and congratulations go out to first-place champs Woodman’s, Ipswich Clambake and all of the other prize-winners who have earned chowder bragging rights for the next year across Cape Ann and beyond.
But these events are more than just fun and games.
They’re important to the city’s and these towns’ local economies. And those who pull them together deserve credit for an important job well done.