Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baltimore's Oyster Shucking Contest

For the second straight post, I must apologize for quality of the photography, but to catch the crowning moment, a cell phone camera was all that was available. The picture is of George Hastings, winner of this year's Baltimore Oyster Shucking Contest, which took place today(Nov. 28) at 12:30 p.m. in the first floor ballroom of Baltimore's Belvedere Hotel. George is a two-time National Champion, who in the year 2000 was declared the second fastest oyster shucker on earth at the International Oyster Shucking Finals in Galway, Ireland. Up until last year, George had won the Baltimore Contest for enough consecutive years that "bowing out gracefully" after last year's competition had been considered an option. However, Vernon Johnson of Oliver Beach, changed all that by defeating George last year. Vernon placed second in today's competition. Other contestants included George's brother Bob from Pennsylvania, former Executive Chef for Phillip's, Paul Bartlett, and Wayne Copsey of Southern Maryland, a three time National Champion during the 1980's.

The Rotary Club of Baltimore, assisted by judges from the Rotary Club of Lexington Park in St. Mary's County, has been hosting the Baltimore Oyster Shucking Contest now for more than two decades. Then as now, the competition serves to create awareness about and kick off the season for promoting the Club's Annual Oyster Roast, Maryland's oldest and largest. This (actually next) year's Roast will be held on Jan. 6, 2007, noon to four, in Baltimore's Fifth Regiment Armory. Tickets are $45.00, $40 if your money is in before Dec. 12. You can arrange to get tickets from me by clicking the envelope at the bottom of this post. The food, provided by Truffles Catering, is the best you'll find at any roast anywhere, plus there's a huge silent auction and all the wheels you could ask for. They provide generous odds at winning prizes ranging from cash to bacon. Proceeds go to a number of youth-oriented charitable causes in Baltimore, which the Club supports through its foundation.

Marylanders are fortunate that the United States National Oyster Shucking contest takes place each year in their state during the third weekend in October at the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park. The festival also hosts America's National Oyster Cook-off. Photographs of all nine dishes that made it to the finals this year are on my Flickr Site.

For further information on the particulars of oyster shucking competition, please download my podcast for which the feed is top right to this post.