On your mark get set . . . slurp
(Editor’s note: Kathleen Hoover, public relations manager for the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum reported on her observations of the Oyster Eating Contest held last Saturday at Timbers Restaurant on Sanibel. The event was part of the 1st Annual Edible Mollusk Festival and Oyster Eating Contest. More than 300 people showed up for the contest and activities. The event was designed by Shell Museum staff and board members to help promote their newest exhibit MMM…Mollusks which opens this month.)
On Your Mark, Get Set, Slurp, instructed Oyster Master, Mark Blust, VP Of Operations and Marketing for Timbers. Clay Miller, anchor for NBC-2 lead the way with the celebrity heat, instructing fellow slurpers on all of the rules . . . the use of blenders and other electric devices will lead to disqualification. But what about battery powered blenders? Food blenders, you’ve got to be kidding, but these were all serious questions posed by contestants in the last few days prior to the event. That’s when it became apparent that these bivalve loving islanders were serious about this oyster slurping stuff.
With the rules committed to memory it was time for the real fun to begin. Dressing techniques were creative and varied, but lemon juice and Tabasco sauce were the most popular.
As heat one contestants took their seats tension filled the air. The service clubs and shell lovers were the first to belly up, with John Carney rumored as the slurper to beat. When the final buzzer rang all hands were to be raised high, mollusks residing in the mouth had to be swallowed and then the counting started 10 . 9. 8. . . . So what was this all about? Another rule whatever went down had to stay down for 10 seconds. After that, well let’s just say, that’s what the colored buckets in front of each contestants were all about!
Now if you thought the dressing stage was creative, the eating techniques were over the top. There were the dainty one at a time slurp it out of the shell eaters, drink them from a glass slurpers, and down and dirty two-fisted “mollusk manglers.” All types were represented when the restaurant/jewelers heat hit the platform. It was clear that they were a force to be reckoned with. Cheers of “girl power” resounded through the crowd. Who would have ever thought that 98 pound Maureen could give the likes of John Carney a run for the gold.
Who would leave victorious, that was the question in the minds of many as the bankers, Baileys and barflys took to the stage. Right from the start one contestant exuded an air of confidence and he left the stage victorious. Al Marti walked away with the coveted Oyster Festival Trophy.
Good business partners – good food – good friends good fun and a worthy cause. Who could ask for anything more? It was a memorable launch for the Museum’s new exhibit, “MMM . . . Mollusks.”