U.S. NATIONAL OYSTER SHUCKING CHAMPIONSHIP CONTEST
|The U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest, held both days of the St. Mary’s Oyster Festival, features the fastest men and women shuckers representing ten states and the fastest local tidewater shuckers competing for cash prizes totaling $1,800. Winners from previous years have competed in the International Oyster Festival in Galway Ireland. See the Previous year’s Winners List. Contestants for the shucking contest come from across the country. Usually they have won a shucking competition from whatever region or area of the country in which they live. For example the West Coast shucking champ comes from Washington state. Other champs represent the states Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Texas, Louisiana and Connecticut. Regional tidewater Maryland contestants come form local restaurants, shucking houses and the Watermen’s Association of St. Mary’s. To learn more about the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Contest and how to apply, visit our Competition Page.
Left: A Women’s Final Shucking heat on Sunday Afternoon
Professional Shucking heat
A contestant treats the spectators to freshly shucked oysters.
A Men’s Shucking Preliminary Heat Held on Saturday afternoon
Shucking champions begin their competition on Saturday with several heats being run for both men and women contestants. Winners of the first round compete on Sunday, with the women’s final beginning at 3:00 p.m., and the men’s final at 3:30 p.m. Then at 4:00 p.m., the women’s champion and the men’s champion will compete for the U.S. championship crown. Past U.S. National Oyster Shucking Champs are always welcomed back to compete. The winning Shucker in the championship heat goes on to represent the United States in the annual International Oyster Opening Competition in Galway, Ireland late in September of the following year.
Competing in the Championship round
All oyster shucking contestants are timed. The speed of shucking 24 oysters is a key component of the contest. Presentation of the shucked oysters, however, is also very important. Seconds are deducted from the shucking time for improperly shucked oysters or those showing less than perfect presentation. Thus, the winners need to be fast, but also must pay attention to the appearance of the oysters they shuck. After judging is complete each contestant shares his or her oysters with the spectators in the stands.
Gardner Douglas was once the sixth-ranked oyster shucker in the United States. Here, he and his father, Sam Fisher (“Sam, Sam the Shucking Man”) talk about oyster shucking, competing in the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest, and the challenges of the shucking life. Courtesy of Linda Golden of the American University Library.