DAMARISCOTTA — A group of 14 contestants are sharpening their oyster knives preparing for the up- coming Maine Champion Oyster Shucking Contest.
The contest, a part of the Pemaquid Oyster Festival, is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 30 at Schooner Landing on the Damariscotta River. The winner will be eligible to compete in the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Contest at the St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival in Maryland. The winner of that event is qualified to go to the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway, Ireland, which is the most highly regarded oyster shucking contest in the world — the winner of that event is considered to be the international champion oyster shucker.
A past winner, William Young, won the national championship and competed in Ireland, but he was unable to win the international title.
Last year’s winner, Bren- dan Parsons, will be back, as will Ben Wolven, who won in 2014. Past champion Smokey McKeen will be participating, and Chris Buxton, who won in 2015 and 2016, is also in the field.
The Pemaquid Oyster Festival is a celebration of Maine’s working waterfront and the primary fundraiser for the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund. The fund is named after Edward Myers, a Walpole resident who pioneered aquaculture
in the Damariscotta River and many other areas. Over $100,000 in grants have been issued by the fund since its inception in 2003.
Time qualifications for the contest will be held during the beginning of the Pemaquid Oyster Festival. Four finalists will begin competing for the crown at around 2:45 p.m.
Contestants will be timed while shucking 12 oysters. Preliminary rounds are judged by time only. Final rounds include time and de- merits against that time will be given based on the quality of the shucked oyster, including any shell pieces left and how much liquid is left in the oyster, according to David Seybold, a contest official.