Upstart Knocks Off Champ In ‘Shucker’ Contest

WEST OCEAN CITY – A new champion was crowned last weekend at the 7th Annual “Fastest Shucker on the Shore” contest at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City with an employee beating his boss in the finals.

For the last seven 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. This year’s Final Four included two shuckers from the host Greene Turtle-West including Jesse Branson and Harry Fleming, against two shuckers from Harrison’s Harbor Watch, including Jeb Vetock and Tom Creveling. Fleming and Vetock were both former champions.

In the semifinals, Vetock and Creveling beat the two Greene Turtle representatives in a close match decided by just a couple of oysters. Branson, who had the single greatest round on the day with 65 in a qualifying heat, and Fleming, the former champ, were ousted, setting up an all Harbor Watch final between Creveling and Vetock.

Vetock is a manager at Harbor Watch, and Creveling is a popular shucker behind the restaurant’s famous raw bar, setting up an interesting final between boss and employee. Something had to give with the two favorites in the finals and the competitors did not disappoint the big crowd. When Greene Turtle-West manager and emcee for the event Chad Rogers gave the signal and started the clock, Vetock and Creveling began cracking oysters at a furious pace as the empty shells began piling up.

When time was called, Rogers carefully sifted through the wreckage and organized the qualifying oysters. After counting and recounting, Rogers declared Creveling the winner with 61 oysters shucked in three minutes. Vetock finished a close second with 52 during the time frame. Rogers jokingly told the crowd if they go to Harbor Watch looking for Creveling behind the raw bar, they would likely find him in the kitchen scrubbing pots and pans.

In the end, however, everybody was a winner from the competitors to the fans to the Worcester County Humane Society, which was the beneficiary of the annual event. A total of 14 competitors shucked 1,246 oysters during the contest.