TOP SHUCKERS IN TYNE VALLEY
Andrew Bond, of the Malpeque Oyster Barn in P.E.I., was among the competitors at the Provincial Oyster Shucking Championship on the weekend, won by Eamon Clark of Toronto.
Hunched over wooden boards, 37 competitors furiously shucked against the clock with Zen-like concentration.
Under bright lights and in front of a large enthusiastic crowd, they separated the mollusc from its pearly home while leaving precisely some of the liquid, but no grit, no shell, and none of their own blood from a slip of a very sharp knife that levers open the oyster.
Adam Maclennan, the vice chairman of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival Inc., says competitors came from around Canada for the chance to be crowned the 2017 Canadian Oyster Shucking Champion.
“The Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship is one of our signature events,” he said. “Shuckers come from all over the country — from Vancouver, Calgary, Newfoundland — for the chance to compete and represent Canada at the Worlds in Galway, Ireland.”
Maclennan added, “So this is basically the Olympics for oyster shucking.”
The competition, which is part of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival, is the only official qualifier in Canada for the World Opening Oyster Championships held in Galway, Ireland, on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Thousands flocked to watch the event at the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre on Friday evening, which was also livestreamed on the Shuck TV. com channel.
“We’re very proud of all the hard work that’s been put in and we are thankful for all the volunteers and community members who help us out,” commented Maclennan.
More than 10,000 oysters are shucked at the five day annual festival. The oysters are harvested from local P.E.I. farms that include Leslie Hardy and Sons, Howard’s Cove, Burleigh Brothers Ltd., and Five Star Shellfish.
Andrew Bond, of the Malpeque Oyster Barn in P.E.I., was crowned the Provincial Oyster Shucking Champion in 2015.
“Today I did 18 oysters, so the event is a little bit more competitive than the Provincial and similar to a game of golf — on some days you are good and other days not so much,” explained Bond. “We’re competing against the best in the nation, and there’s a lot of pressure up there.”
The 25-year-old from Kensington, added: “Even though the event is competitive, it’s all done in good camaraderie.”
David Mullis, from Bedeque, is a regular competitor in the oyster shucking event.
“I grew up in Borden and use to pick oysters and learn how to open them for fun. Then one night my good friends said let’s go to Tyne Valley (Oyster Festival), and that was maybe 15 years ago. I joined the oyster shucking competition, and it went great and I have been competing since,” he grinned.
The oyster shucking championship wrapped up shortly after midnight with Eamon Clark, from Toronto, shucking his way to victory.
This is the eighth time Clark has won the championship. He represents Rodney’s Oyster House, a family-owned restaurant in Toronto.
Andrew Bond, of the Malpeque Oyster Barn in P.E.I., was crowned the Provincial Oyster Shucking Champion in 2015. He shows the precision it takes to crack open an oyster shell in the 2017 Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship in Tyne Valley Friday evening.