Is it my imagination or do the crowds in Wellfleet have an even better time when it's rainy than when it's sunny at OysterFest? Because even though the crowds had thinned the teensiest bit, spirits were high as we headed into the shucking competition finals.
Before the shucking started, shellfisherman Bob Lapointe won first place in the largest-oyster-growing competition. Take a look at this thing! Weighing in at 1.02 pounds it took 4.5 years to grow.
Then it was 3-2-1 SHUCK! The 10 finalists were required to shuck 24 oysters as quickly and cleanly as possible. Clint Austin raised his arms as he finished and the crowd roared its approval.
Oysters were carefully carried to the tent where each tray was judged anonymously and penalties were added for such shucking no-nos such as cut oysters, grit or sand in the oysters, bloody oysters, or broken shells. This years judges were Mike May and Alex Hay of Wellfleet, and John Baby from Toronto.
On stage, the shells were flying. Between rounds, MCs Mac Hay and Eric Williams kept the banter lively. "When you eat an oyster it's like jumping in the ocean," said Williams.
The tension mounted as we waited for results, with the first ever tie for 4th place resulting in an extra shuck-off round to see who would compete in the top 3 final final round. James Gray, above, won the $1K first place prize with an adjusted time of 2 minutes 24 seconds, a full 18 seconds ahead of 2nd place winner Keith Rose and 26 seconds ahead of 3rd place winner Jon Nordahl.
Of course it wouldn't be the Wellfleet OysterFest without an ending kick-ass concert, this time provided by Chandler Travis' Incredible Casuals.
This empty shell oyster tower pretty much summed up the festival. As we say here in Massachusetts, it was wicked awesome. Thanks you Wellfleet. See you next year!
I grew up spending part of every summer in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, which included eating many oysters. After stumbling into an oyster shucking competition in Miami Beach in 2006, I’ve become a fan of the sport and have written about local, national, and international competitions for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, American Way Magazine, and the Huffington Post. I've also written oyster-centric stories for Rustik and Modern Farmer. I’ve never met an oyster I didn’t want to eat.