Nova Scotia Oyster Shucking Championship

The Nova Scotia Oyster Shucking Championship is an Oyster Fest highlight. Amateurs and pros from all over are welcome to join host Daniel Notkin on stage to provide an entertaining and raucous competition.

In January 2018, John Bil passed away from cancer at his home in Toronto, Ontario. Bil had been a guest of the Halifax Oyster Festival the past few years, providing encouragement, advice and judging at the front table. To honour his memory and his love of all things oysters we are renaming our annual Nova Scotia Shucking Championship trophy to the John Bil Memorial Trophy. Bil promoted amateurs and pro shuckers alike in everything he did so we hope we all do him proud.

In its first three years, the Nova Scotia shucking crown has gone to Maison BeauSoleil. At the inaugural 2015 championship, BeauSoleil's Maxime Daigle (pictured above) won the title. Then in 2016, 2017 and 2018, Max's brother Jean-Francois Daigle was the most skilled shucker of them all.

Will someone else take the prize in 2019, or does the Maison always win? To take your shot, check out the following rules and regulations, then you can sign up to compete with the registration form.


  • Participants qualify to compete at discretion of the committee
  • The committee reserves the right to grant special entry
  • Competition will take place on the festival main stage
  • Contestants will open and present 12 oysters on the half shell
  • Winner receives trophy, the title of Nova Scotia Oyster Shucking Champion and $500 cash


  • All participants must arrive at the festival tent and check-in at the shucking judging table at the front of the stage. Amateur shuckers have the option to compete Friday, October 4, 2019 at 7pm, and Saturday, October 5 at 12pm. Pro shuckers, Saturday at 7pm.
  • Application must be received by Thursday, October 3. Registration form here.

Competition Details

Each Contestant Receives

  • Box of 14 choice grade oysters from which they will select their 12 competition oysters
  • Platter which to present oysters on, lined with coarse salt

What to Bring

  • Contestants supply their own hand wear, shucking knives, cutting board and any other related equipment
  • Contestants may tape fingers/hands, wear gloves or any other protection desired
  • Contestants may use a towel or cloth to stabilize oyster
  • Contestants may carry one back-up oyster shucking knife
  • All equipment must be approved by competition judges


  • Shuckers should be presentable in such a way that best represents the occasion and place of business you are competing for, the province and/or any sponsoring organization


  • At the discretion of the judges and timekeepers
  • If contestant does not comply with the rules of the contest
  • If contestant distracts another competitor by vocal or physical interference
  • If contestant is deemed to have committed a flagrant or other impropriety


  • There will be two judges including a chief judge
  • Each shall have considerable experience and/or knowledge of half shell oyster service
  • There will be one chief timekeeper
  • Each contestant will have a separate timekeeper
  • Contestants will raise their oyster knives to head height to indicate readiness
  • At prompt from emcee all contestants begin to shuck and timekeepers start their watches simultaneously
  • Competitors will be given box of 14 competition grade oysters and must open and present 12 oysters
  • Competitors must tap the table or raise hands overhead and step back when shucking is complete and oysters are presented to his/her satisfaction
  • The timekeeper will immediately stop the watch
  • Contestants may not touch tray of oysters after he/she has signaled completion

Penalties – to be determined by the judges (per oyster)

  • 30sec = unpresented, meaning fewer or more than 12 oysters on the completed tray
  • 30sec = presented with blood on oyster meat
  • 10sec = not presented upright or meat out of shell
  • 10sec = presented on flat shell
  • 10sec = presented with a broken (in two pieces) under shell
  • 3sec = oyster is not completely severed from the shell (10sec/oyster if more than six)
  • 2sec = presented with shell grit, mud or other extraneous material
  • 2sec = presented with meat cut or mangled


  • Judges will provide the chief timekeeper with overall penalty scores
  • Chief timekeeper will add the penalties to the shucking time for each contestant to determine overall adjusted time
  • Overall score is determined by a combination of actual shucking time, shucked appearance, presence of shell, grit, broken shell cup, meat cut, etc.
  • The winner is found by overall adjusted lowest total seconds score and has not been disqualified
  • Master of Ceremonies will announce the results of the competition on the main stage