Time changes everything and change is often difficult. The Scallop Fest is not immune to these truths. With a 45-year history in the Town of Bourne, the event began in Buzzards Bay Park by local fishermen celebrating the abundant harvest of Cape scallops. The fest grew over the years, spurring a change in location from Buzzards Bay Park to the National Guard Armory in Buzzards Bay and then moving over the bridge to the Massachusetts Military Reservation before returning to the park again a decade ago.
Upon its moving back to Buzzards Bay Park, the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce stepped in to coordinate the ever-growing festival. In October of 2013, the chamber needed to address its biggest challenges to date—the product supply and festival location.
Today, scallops are no longer in abundant supplies. Their harvest is strictly monitored by the government and the “local” fishermen are now a fleet of multi-million dollar boats based out of New Bedford. The escalating costs of scallops means the chamber can no longer rely on scallop dinner sales for its funding.
Changes to the park’s infrastructure are also impeding the fest’s needs. The location—Buzzards Bay Park is town property. The public rest rooms and parking lot alongside the park are owned and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Dedicated citizens working for the revitalization of Bourne’s downtown have helped bring to fruition the first phase of improvements: a new streetscape along Main Street adding defined parking spaces, antique lamp poles and benches. The next phase includes improvements for Buzzards Bay Park itself—adding recreation areas for children, memorial gardens, lighting, underground irrigation as documented in the Buzzards Bay Vision Plan.
The chamber wholeheartedly supports these upgrades and is a proud neighbor. We are excited that Buzzards Bay Park will be enjoyed more often and by more people. However, these changes will reduce the open space available, making it impossible to use as the location for the Scallop Fest.
Numerous other town locations were considered, and none were large enough or accessible to provide the infrastructure needed for the festival set-up. Therefore, the chamber made the decision to move the fest to the Cape Cod Fairgrounds, which has the access, the facilities and the parking.
The Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization. We raise our own dollars each and every year to provide services to the community and to other nonprofit organizations. The Scallop Fest is the main fundraiser for the chamber. The proceeds help fund scholarships to the four area high schools, donations to the local food pantries, and operation of two significant visitor centers that serve the traveling public and create thousands of referrals to area business. We create jobs, service our membership, and maintain a quality of life in the region.
The money raised through the Scallop Fest will remain in the Canal Region community.
Ms. Oliva is president and CEO of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce.