Shucking around: Ontario’s best shuckers set to battle it out at the Southern Ontario Oyster Festival

The theme for this year’s Southern Ontario Oyster Festival is “Grit Happens.” What the shuck does that mean? Well, it’s an homage to the wild western movie True Grit, and the dirt that, at times, finds its way into a freshly shucked oyster. Hey, it happens.

Starting at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, Rodney’s Oyster House on King Street will host its annual event, with all proceeds going to the Environmental Defence. For $30.00 a head, patrons are invited to indulge in lots of salt-water cuisine (or beef chili, for those who can’t stomach the slimy crustaceans), drink a few draft beers and bear witness to the festival’s most anticipated event, the annual Ontario Oyster Shucking Competition.

Some of Ontario’s best shuckers, who could potentially include Patrick McMurray (Starfish), Mike Osborne (Rodney’s by Bay), and Lawrence David (Starfish), will compete for the George Carr memorial trophy — a tribute to the famous oyster connoisseur — and a chance to battle in the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship in P.E.I.

This year’s festival competition rings personal for the oyster house. Owner Rodney Clark’s son, shucker extraordinaire Eamon Clark, will try and reclaim his championship crown (he lost to Osborne last year). In what he calls a “fight to the last shell,” he plans on wielding his most successful technique: speed. “The idea is to crack them open as quickly as possible while preserving the most natural state of the oyster… with no grit.”

More simply put, “The faster, the better.” A line most oyster lovers will hope to forgo after a day spent indulging in the world’s most famous aphrodisiac. Happy slurping!

Southern Ontario Oyster Festival, Rodney’s Oyster House, July 17

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO