Since Urbanna is the home of The Virginia “official” Oyster Festival, it is only appropriate that some of the best oyster shuckers in the world practice their trade here. The first Virginia Oyster Shucking Contest was held in Urbanna on Saturday, November 6, 1982. The 1982 winner in the women’s division was Pamela Page (Women’s National Champion) with a time of 7:05. The 1982 men’s champion was George Hodges with a time of 7:52. The 1983 women’s champion was Mrs. Sara Hammond with a time of 6:57 and the 1983 Men’s Champion was Sheppard Hammond whose time was 8:20. Sara Hammond of Church View went on to compete in Galway, Ireland in 1983 and placed third in the world!
The Urbanna Oyster Shucking Contest has become an annual event in the Historic Port Town Urbanna, and the winner is declared State Champion and advances to compete in the National Oyster Shucking Contest in St. Mary’s, Maryland. The National Champion then travels to Galway, Ireland to participate in the World Championship. Our own Deborah Pratt has made several trips to Galway, Ireland to defend her championship. Although the emphasis is on speed, other factors on which the contestants are judged include the amount of shell fragments, clean separation of the oyster from the shell and damage to the meat of the oyster.
Think you have what it takes to participate in the Shucking Competition?
Things looked a little different in 2020, and the Urbanna Oyster Festival went virtual! Check out last year’s Live Recording of the 2020 Virginia State Oyster Shucking Competition!