In the Hoosier state at the event billed as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the mantra is “Start your engines!” But on Sanibel, the mantra heralding the arrival of spring is “Get ready, get set, slurp!”
That’s exactly what you’ll hear if you make your way to Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market on Saturday, April 16. The competition is really heating up as team sponsors and their respective eaters strive to beat 2010 winner Al Marti’s record number of sliders.
“I’m on the bubble and everyone is out to steal the crown,” reported Marti.
The Second Annual Edible Mollusk Festival and Oyster Eating Contest will be held on April 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, located at 703 Tarpon Bay Road on Sanibel. Admission is free.
The event is sponsored by The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery, Times of the Islands, Caloosa Tent and Rental, and The News-Press Media Group. Clay Miller of NBC-2 will return as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
All proceeds will benefit the Shell Museum’s exhibits and educational programs. Activities will include face painting, games and crafts for children, cooking and mollusk workshops, food and drink vendors, oyster exhibit, raffle and oyster eating contest. Contestants will be given 60 seconds to eat as many oysters as possible.
Team Sponsors for the 2011 event include Bailey's General Store, The Jacaranda, Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis, Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, Stilwell Enterprises, Law Office of Janet M. Strickland, P.A., Times of the Islands, Traders Cafe and Store, Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille, Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery, Bank of the Islands, Al Marti and the Oyster Crackers, Patricia Bell, The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, Friends of F.I.S.H., Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club, The Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, Stewart Title and Caloosa Tent and Rental.
Many non-oyster eating guests will be waiting for the winning raffle ticket announcement. The lucky winner will leave with a striking sterling silver double strand necklace with a large teardrop-shaped mother of pearl with aquamarine beads and blue topaz accents, donated by Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery.
Tickets may be purchased for $10 or three for $25 the day of the event or prior to the event at the Shell Museum. You do not have to be present to win.
Attendees will not want to miss an opportunity to see restaurateur Matt Asen’s oyster shell collection. This is no ordinary display. Last summer, Matt traveled the world, from Maine, to Australia, Europe and China, consuming oysters throughout his travels. But he didn’t simply enjoy the “slurp” he cleaned and bagged the shells, schlepping them across the pond so he could tell the story of how he ate his way through his summer vacation. The oyster shells currently are on display at the Shell Museum, but they will be moved to Timbers for the Festival.
Edible Mollusk Festival and Oyster Eating Contest T-shirts are back by popular demand and will be sold the day of the event. Once again, local cartoonist, Dave Horton has created a special design for the contest.
For additional information, visit the Shell Museum’s website at www.shellmuseum.org.
Last year's oyster-eating champion, Al Marti, holds his trophy aloft.