WEST OCEAN CITY — It was more of the same at the 9th Annual Oyster Shucking Contest at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City last Sunday as Tom Creveling of Harrison’s Harbor Watch repeated as champion for the third straight year.
For the last nine years, some of the fastest oyster shuckers on the Eastern Shore have gathered for the annual event at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City. For the last three of those nine years, or a third of the entire history of the event, Creveling has come out on top amid fierce competition from some familiar faces.
Last Sunday, Creveling edged Harbor Watch manager Jeb Vetock by a single oyster, 45-44. Last year, Creveling also beat Vetock in the finals, shucking 62 oysters in the final three-minute heat. After losing to Creveling in each of the last two years, Vetock, who is also a former champion, jokingly said he was going to bump his colleague from the raw bar to the dishwasher at Harrison’s Harbor Watch.
Vetock and Creveling’s success at oyster shucking goes far beyond the annual event at the Greene Turtle West each year. At the U.S. Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County last fall, Vetock finished eighth overall in the national competition, while Creveling finished 11th. Vetock’s wife, Lori Kelly, also an accomplished shucker, finished 15th overall.
The shuckers competed in three-minute heats with the victor in each heat advancing. The semifinals included, of course, Creveling and Vetock, along with Tommy Perry of the Greene Turtle West and Joe McLaughlin of Phillips. After an extremely close semifinal heat, during which all of the competitors were within a couple of oysters of each other, Vetock and Creveling advanced to the finals for the second straight year.
The contest draws hundreds of oyster fans and thousands of icy, salty raw oysters were shucked and consumed, all in the name of the local charity, again this year the Worcester County Humane Society. While the shucking and consumption of raw oysters in the centerpiece, the event had something for everybody including oyster stew, munchies, beer specials, raffles and a DJ, all against the backdrop of a celebration for a good cause.