There was a carnival atmosphere in Hillsborough as the annual Oyster Festival got underway with the hotly contested world oyster eating contest drawing huge crowds as they enjoyed the warm sunshine.
The World Oyster Eating Championship title remained in Co Down for another year thanks to the astonishing efforts of Dromore man Colin Shirlow.
The 56-year-old grandfather, known as the Oyster King, matched his 2005 Guinness World Record by swallowing a staggering 233 of the slimy critters in just three minutes at the 20th Hillsborough Oyster Festival over the weekend.
Colin, who admitted he was nervous ahead of the final, faced stiff competition from petite US competitive eater Sonya Thomas. Known as The Black Widow, the 45-year-old Korean-born woman travelled from Virginia to Hillsborough to take part.
She managed to guzzle 208 oysters, so will just have to be satisfied with her other remarkable eating records, which include eating 11lbs of cheesecake in nine minutes, 44 soft shell lobsters in 12 minutes and 52 hard-boiled eggs in five minutes.
Colin told the Belfast Telegraph he was delighted to win for an eighth time and praised The Black Widow. “I feel elated,” Colin said. “Each time Sonya comes across it gives the competition more of an edge.”
Sonya, who weighs a little over seven stone, but has the ability to make her stomach stretch beyond what seems humanly possible, said she will hopefully be back next year. “Colin did a very good job,” she added. Thousands descended on the village between Thursday and Sunday for a series of events, including a soap box derby and gourmet food market.