A ‘shucking’ good time at Halifax Oyster Festival
Halifax’s first oyster celebration attracts 1,000 people
October 4, 2015, 5:01 pm ASTLast Updated: October 5, 2015, 8:56 am
It was a cold, blustering day but approximately 1,000 brave Maritimers came to the Halifax Waterfront to slurp the 80,000 slimy sea creatures available at the first annual Oyster Festival.
“I’m going for 30 oysters,” said Nicolas Sony as he sipped from a craft beer.
“I think I’ve had about 60,” added Ally Soule, patting her stomach.
The event was organized by the The Coast. It was one of a series of events put on by The Coast this year, including the Halifax Food Truck Party and Burger Week.
A total of 13 oyster farmers from all over the Maritime provinces offered all-you-can eat oysters to attendees.
“He was a brave man who first ate an oyster,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, quoting author Jonathan Swift before the crowd.
Shucking is an art
The festival was divided into two three-hour blocks, each featuring an oyster shucking competition.
The crowd cheered excitedly as 10-year-old Franklin Munroe competed in the first competition.
Raised by two Nova Scotian Oyster farmers, Munroe began shucking when he was eight.
“I learned it all from my dad,” he said after winning a duel against a competitor 10 years his senior.
Every shucker had their own technique.
“It’s all in the wrist,” said Jed Siscoe, a professional shucker.
“Not losing your head, not cursing, and not bleeding all over the oysters,” said Matt McDonald, competition participant.
“The secret is being confident,” said Janet Callaghan, of Leslie Hardy and Sons Oysters, P.E.I. “Not too much force initially […] Be gentle with the oyster.”
More than sea snacks
Despite the weather, the crowd was in a good mood.
“This is my whole life encapsulated in a tent,” said Dylan Toyne, an attendee. “Beer and oysters, baby.”
Attendees, who paid a $65 entrance fee, enjoyed not only oysters and drinks. There was also feel-good music, provided by DJ Young Hearts, and “shellfie” photo opportunities with an oyster shell covered car.
“It was nice to know the oysters came from a few kilometers away, straight to my mouth,” said Kevin Smith, visiting from Toronto for the weekend.
He ate 70 oysters…at least.