Belfast Telegraph

In Pictures: Hillsborough World Oyster Eating Championship

A taste of the Orient at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival 2012.
A taste of the Orient at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival 2012.
Sunday Life Only NewsSoorok Potter prepares her Oysters at the Oyster eating world record competition at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival.Story Kim Kelly Picture Colm O'Reilly
McBurney/Hillsborough Oyster Festival 2012NO PRINTS, SALES, WEB or SYNDICATIONPictured Gemma Garrett competes against Colin Shirlow, the current Guinness world record holder who can put away 233 oysters in three minutes, to sees who an can eat 15 oysters the fastest.Date: Wednesday 29th August 2012Location: Bar Retro café, HillsboroughPlease credit as: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIXCopyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIXLiam McBurney+44 7837 68 57 67+44 2890 660 676liammcburney@gmail.com
Sunday Life Only NewsBruno Leiseder and Andres Angst from Switzerland take part in the eating competion at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival.Story Kim Kelly Picture Colm O'Reilly
Sunday Life Only NewsFastest Oyster eater Richard Gamble at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival.Story Kim Kelly Picture Colm O'Reilly
Pearl Prize for Oyster Festival Punter: The Hillside in Hillsborough, Co. Down has teamed up with Lunns The Jewellers to offer customers frequenting the bar during the Oyster Festival, 6th-9th September the chance to win a stunning pearl bracelet by luxury jewellery designer, David Yurman. Throughout the three-day festival, customers visiting The Hillside will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets, which in keeping with the events maritime theme, will be attached to Oyster shells. At the end of the three days, a grand prize draw will be made to reveal the winner of the pearl bracelet, which is worth £385. All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Jill Todd Trust, the Hillsborough International Oyster Festivals nominated charity for 2012. Pictured: Andrew Graham, The Hillside; Petra Wolsey, Beannchor Group and John Lunn, Lunns The Jewellers.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012. Sonya Thomas, known as the Black Widow, from New York
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012. World oyster eating champion Colin Shirlow who equaled his Guinness World Record of 233 in 3 minutes
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012. World oyster eating champion Colin Shirlow who equaled his Guinness World Record of 233 in 3 minutes
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Hillsborough Oyster Festival, World Oyster Eating Championship 2012.

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.

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