WEST OCEAN CITY – A new champion was crowned and a new standard was set last weekend at the 6th Annual “Fastest Shucker on the Shore” contest at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City.
For the last six years, some of the best oyster shuckers on the Eastern Shore have gathered for the annual event at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City. The contest draws hundreds of oyster fans and typically thousands of icy, salty raw oysters are shucked and consumed on a Sunday afternoon all in the name of a local charity, this year the Worcester County Humane Society.
The shuckers compete in three-minute heats with the contestant who shucks the most oysters during the time frame advancing on. Typically, 40 or so in a heat is a good score and will likely advance a contestant to the next round, but a new standard was set this year, likely raising the bar for future hopefuls.
This year’s finals featured defending champion Harry Fleming, a cook at the Greene Turtle West, against perennial contender Joe McLaughlin of Phillips Crab House. Fleming, who had a home field advantage of sorts, won last year’s contest, while McLaughlin has competed in the event every year since its inception.
Something had to give with the two favorites in the finals and the competitors did not disappoint the big crowd. When Greene Turtle West General Manager Chad Rogers gave the signal and started the clock, Fleming and McLaughlin began cracking oysters at a furious pace as the empty shells began piling up. When the time was up, Rogers and his assistant carefully sifted through the wreckage and organized the qualifying oysters.
After counting and recounting, Rogers announced the two contestants had shucked an event-record 125 oysters in the finals. McLaughlin was declared the winner with 65 oysters shucked in three minutes, while Fleming finished a close second with 60 of his own. In any other year, Fleming would have likely retained his title, but McLaughlin would not be denied in his sixth attempt.
In the end, everybody was a winner, however, from the competitors to the fans who enjoyed hundreds of oysters to the Worcester County Humane Society, which was the beneficiary of the annual event. The proceeds from the 50-50 raffle were given to DJ Wax, who emceed the event. His son is battling a serious illness and the money from the raffle will help with mounting medical bills. In yet another example of the generosity of the local community, the winner of the 50-50 raffle, Donna Evans from the Embers, donated her winnings back to DJ Wax.