The crowds arrived earlier than ever for the 13th annual Wellfleet OysterFest. Maybe it was the perfect fall weather, or the terrific arts and crafts booths lining the streets of town. That helped swell the numbers, I think, butT the real draw was the opportunity to eat the best damn oysters on the planet. Yeah, that.
Oysters for breakfast? Yes, please.
Toronto-based shucking judge John Baby and shucking competition coordinator Nancy Civetta before the competition.
The first competitors took the stage about 1 p.m. Twenty-two shuckers competed in 11 heats in front of a crowd estimated to be over 10,000.
Beer sales were brisk!
2012 champion shucker James Gray goes for two-in-a-row win.
Two time shucking champion Barbara Austin had support from the cheering crowd.
Emcees Eric Williams and Mac Hay banter between heats.
Paul Suggs raises arms high after speedily opening 24 oysters. But speed isn’t the only thing that determines who wins; aesthetic presentation counts, too, with penalties added for broken shells, cut oysters, grit, and blood from slashed fingers.
In judging tent, oysters are meticulously and anonymously checked for deviations from perfection.
Tomorrow, 10 shuckers will compete for the $1,000 first prize and bragging rights for a year.
Crowds scarfed down oysters before, during and after the competition.
Sincere apologies for the photo-heavy post. This blogger's typing hand was seriously injured last night...putting out a fire! However, I hear oysters help the healing process.
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.