Oyster shucking for the Martha’s Vineyard Animal Shelter

To the roar of a crowd of good-timers at Nancy’s restaurant in Oak Bluffs on Saturday afternoon, some of the Island’s top oyster shuckers competed for the benefit of the Martha’s Vineyard Animal Shelter.

They were also in it for bragging rights and beer paraphernalia donated by Heineken.

From a table in the middle of the restaurant’s upstairs deck, shell fragments, ice chips, and curses flew as shuckers strutted their stuff. As opposed to the kindlier, gentler approach of going through the outside edge of an oyster, all the shuckers attacked the bivalves through their hinges — an approach that requires more muscle than guile, but which is undeniably the fastest way to go.

Hundreds of oysters donated by Sweetneck Oyster Farm were opened during the event, and as soon as a plate of a dozen were opened they were auctioned off to the audience. By the end of the afternoon, more than $1,000 had been raised for the shelter, along with the spirits of those who attended the jovial, joyful event.

Masterminded by the irrepressible Austin Higgins, the proceedings were emceed by John Tiernen, he of local karaoke fame.