Festival Time

As this is being written, it's sunny and about 70 degrees outside of The Chronicle's office. It's a perfect fall day, the very epitome of why many of us who live here believe that autumn is the Cape's best season.

It seems like we aren't alone. Almost every weekend since Labor Day, and many weekdays, downtown Chatham has been packed with people. Granted, it's a different crowd than those who are here in the summer; older, or younger with no kids or toddlers who haven't hit school age yet. But it's still a crowd. The same is true for Harwich and Orleans. Area businesses report a strong fall, and residents seem happy that even though it's busy, parking and traffic are at a level that can be handled without increasing the blood pressure.

With summer so busy most residents and business owners can barely catch their breath, the fall has become the time for festivals. The months-long Fall for Harwich. Oktoberfest in Chatham, which happens this Saturday. The recent Orleans ClamBQ. Many were initially designed to help attract visitors in the end-of-the-year shoulder season. That hardly seems necessary now, but the festivals are still held and still serve a vital purpose. They've become a time for locals to meet up and have some fun, as well as a way to attract folks into town. They're also well on their way to becoming traditions. Even last weekend's Wellfleet Oyster Festival, handicapped by a lack of oysters due to a contamination closure, still attracted a robust crowd. People are coming here, as always, because they want to be here. It's just that they've discovered they're more to the Cape than summer.