Key West veteran wins 50th annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest

Share this post:
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

In this photo, provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Clinton Curry, 38, blows two conch shells simultaneously during the 50th Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Key West, Fla. Curry, a seventh-generation Key Wester who first blew a conch shell as a child, won top honors in the contest that attracted more than 50 entrants who were judged on quality, loudness, duration and novelty of the sounds they produced. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Carol Tedesco)

In this photo, provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Mary Lou Smith competes in the 50th Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Key West, Fla. Smith and more than 50 other contestants were judged on quality, loudness, duration and novelty of the sounds they produced. Blowing conch shells has been a Key West tradition since the early 1800s, when seafaring settlers used it for signaling. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Carol Tedesco)

Clinton Curry, a Key West native who has blown conch shells since he was a child, took top honors in the 50th Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest.

“The conch shell has a huge place in Key West history,” Curry told the Palm Beach Post. “I’m all about preserving the heritage of my home town. This is just one small piece that I get to contribute to helping preserve that history.”

More than 50 fans of the fluted, pink-lined shell participated in the “conch musicianship” in the tropical garden of Key West’s Oldest House, 322 Duval St. Nicknamed the Conch Honk, the lighthearted competition salutes Key West’s seafaring heritage and is presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation.

The tradition of blowing a conch shell in the Florida Keys began centuries ago. In the 1800s, when the local economy was largely based on salvaging cargoes from ships wrecked on the nearby reef, sailors attracted attention by blowing piercing blasts on the shell.

“There wasn’t a ship that went out that didn’t have at least one conch shell on it for communications,” said contest winner Curry.

The Keys’ connection with conch goes far beyond instrumental and communications applications. The slightly tough meat of the hardy mollusk is the prime ingredient in conch chowder and conch fritters, two of the island chain’s signature dishes. Keys natives proudly proclaim their own tough, hardy nature by calling themselves “conchs” and their home the Conch Republic.

While most entrants only manage blasts or squawks, each year a few produce complex melodies that impress judges and audiences alike. Winners are chosen for the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of the sounds they make, with trophies awarded in multiple age categories. The festivities typically include performances by talented “pucker pros.”

 



Clear
Thursday 05/26/2016 20%
Clear
Sunny to partly cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High around 85F. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph.
Partly Cloudy
Friday 05/27/2016 20%
Partly Cloudy
Partly cloudy skies. High 87F. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Saturday 05/28/2016 50%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms in the morning. Lots of sunshine late. High 87F. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Clear
Sunday 05/29/2016 20%
Clear
Sunny. High 88F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.
Clear
Monday 05/30/2016 20%
Clear
A mainly sunny sky. High 87F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph.
Clear
Tuesday 05/31/2016 20%
Clear
Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 87F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.

 

Have you been to Key West? Share your story and photos below. (Clicking in the comment box will bring up an image uploading link.)

Leave a Reply