YARMOUTH (AP) – Beattie Quintal shucked 24 clams in a minute to capture her sixth consecutive victory at the Yarmouth Clam Festival.

Quintal, of Waldoboro, beat out her sister Muriel Winchenbach of Bath by four clams. She won $100, a hat and a T-shirt. She said she shucks for fun, and as a way to honor her father, who raised 14 children, all of whom helped him shuck clams.

The 38th annual Yarmouth Clam Festival is one of the Gulf of Maine’s most treasured treats. The three-day festival, held over the weekend, attracted thousands of people.

The Yarmouth Ski Club served fried clams in crumbs from its festival booth in front of the police station. A few doors down, the Royal River Chorus of Sweet Adelines International offered up its fried clams in batter. Either way, the price is the same – $7.

If you prefer clam cakes, the local AMVETS post sold two for $3 or a clam-cake dinner for $6. The post’s volunteers sold about 1,000 dinners and 5,000 cakes the festival’s first day, said Dick Lindahl.

The clam-shucking competition drew a huge crowd to the grounds of the local library. Under a blue tent, competitors try their best to shuck as many clams as possible in 60 seconds.

By festival rules, a competitor must be no younger than 16.

To count as a shucked clam, master of ceremonies Patt Callaghan announced, “the body has to be intact and no shell can be attached.”

To shuck – or shell – a clam, a contestant uses a knife to break the muscle that holds the shell closed, peels the shell open and uses the knife to break the muscle that holds the clam to the shell and scoop out the body.

Amateurs donned special gloves and aprons. The pros – such as Quintal – go barehanded.

As much of a laborious task as it was for the Winchenbach children to shuck clams for their father, they came as adults to appreciate the tradition and custom of a Maine family’s financial reliance on the ocean. Now the children are grown, so they enter clam-shucking contests to enjoy the memories.

Muriel Winchenbach won the title twice in a row until sister Quintal wrested it from her six years ago.

Quintal’s 26-year-old daughter, Angela, also competed in the amateur category. She shucked six clams. Her observance: “They’re really slimy.”



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