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Shell Museum’s Oyster Eating Contest promises mollusk-munching mayhem

By Staff | Apr 13, 2012

Photo by CAROL ORR HARTMAN The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum will hold its 3rd annual Oyster Eating Contest April 21 at The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market, 703 Tarpon Bay Rd. Left to Right – Lamar Williams (2011 Oyster Champion), James Young (2012 Oyster Committee Chair), Cindy Porter (2011 Female Champion), Matt Asan and Jo Bogdon (both of The Timbers)

Get ready, get set, slurp!

Twenty-five contestants, who are sponsored by island businesses, will be ready to consume as many mollusks as they can in one minute while helping to raise funds for The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum during the 3rd annual Oyster Eating Contest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market.

“I think the Oyster Eating Contest became very popular since its inception in 2010 because it is an open and entertaining event geared toward locals (but evidently not excluding visitors),” said Dr. Jose H. Leal, director and curator of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.

The returning champion, Lamar Williams, plans to retain his title this year. Williams won last year’s contest by downing 48 mollusks with no secret to his success.

“There is really nothing to it,” he said.

However, there are many ways to win in this year’s competition. Categories include: Grand Champion, second and third places, Female Champion, Best Oyster Attire, Most Clams (money) collected (more than $1,000) and Most Team Spirit.

“The Oyster Eating Contest is not the time and place to clam up,” said John Suau, BMSM Public Relations & Marketing Manager. “Team spirit has always played an important role in the contest, as the oyster eaters seem to slurp even faster when they have a wild and crazy rooting section coming out of its shell to encourage them.”

In the past, contestants have waved signs, tooted noisemakers and yelled, whistled and cheered their oyster eater on to victory. They have also supported the museum at the event by purchasing delicious food and refreshments provided by The Timbers.

This year Lily & Co has donated a ladies watch for raffle. Tickets may be purchased in advance at BMSM, Bailey’s General Store (Richard Johnson), Bank of the Islands (Rob Lisenbee), Sanibel-Captiva Trust Company (James Young), and The Timbers Restaurant (Mark Blust). No need to be present at the event to win.

In addition, there will be crafts and face painting for the children. So even if you are not a contestant, come to the event, cheer on your favorite mollusk muncher, sample some Timbers seafood (at your own pace), have a great time and help support the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.

“Given its timing,” added Leal, “the contest celebrates yet the end of another season. Lots of fun, locals and their families, and good eats!”

Anyone interested in being a contestant or sponsor, contact Suau at 239-395-2233 or by email at jsuau@shellmuseum.org.