Another successful year at Oyster Festival

Ten-year oyster eating champion, Colin Shirlow from Dromore, finally faced defeat at this year’s Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship which took place on Saturday September 3.

Out-eaten by US Contender Michelle Lesco at the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, Michelle managed to knock Colin off his throne by eating 227 oysters in three minutes and defeated fellow American Adrian ‘The Rabbit’ Morgan.

Press Eye - The 24th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival - 3rd September 2016
Photograph by Declan Roughan

Former World Oyster eating champion Colin Shirlow lost his title this year to Michelle Lesco from Arizona, who is currently 10th in the world for major league eating.

A Festival of Fun In Hillsborough
The 24th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival got underway on Saturday 3rd September with a fun-packed day of activities and attractions including the Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship, the Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby, and the first Northern Irish heat of the British Street Food awards. Crowds also enjoyed live entertainment, a marquee filled with treats from local producers, and lots of children's games and activities at the oyster fun fair.

Press Eye - The 24th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival - 3rd September 2016 Photograph by Declan Roughan Former World Oyster eating champion Colin Shirlow lost his title this year to Michelle Lesco from Arizona, who is currently 10th in the world for major league eating. A Festival of Fun In Hillsborough The 24th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival got underway on Saturday 3rd September with a fun-packed day of activities and attractions including the Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship, the Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby, and the first Northern Irish heat of the British Street Food awards. Crowds also enjoyed live entertainment, a marquee filled with treats from local producers, and lots of children's games and activities at the oyster fun fair.

Although Colin remained top of the leader-board for so long, it’s hardly surprising that Michelle managed to overtake him.

A regular at professional eating competitions in the States, Michelle managed to put away 385 oysters in 8 minutes at the Acme Oyster Eating Competition in New Orleans earlier this year.

Former oyster eating champion Colin Shirlow said: “I’ve won so many times now I really don’t mind that someone else takes it for a change.

“I still in enjoy the challenge.

“It all started when I walked into a pub years ago.

“They made me eat 60 oysters and all of a sudden I was in the final of the world championship.

“A Norwegian beat me this time around but you never know what will happen next year.”

Winner Michelle has taken part in countless eating competitions including ribs, hotdogs and hamburgers.

New world oyster eating champion, Michelle Lesco said: “Colin is like a machine and until now no-one has been able to touch him.

“I train before every competition and really studied how Colin has been doing it.

“I just managed to beat him and I’m delighted to have won.”

The Turkish Airlines World Oyster Eating Championship was attended by thousands of people as part of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.

Other events included the Phoenix Natural Gas Soapbox Derby which featured a superb range of soapboxes and entertained the crowds and the first Northern Irish heat of the British Street Food Awards.

This was another close contest which saw the public vote going to Pheasant Hill and judges Richard Johnson and Paula McIntyre’s votes going to Broughgammon Farm.

These two street food retailers will now go on to represent Northern Ireland in the final of the British Street Food Awards in Birmingham.

The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival also kindly acknowledges the support of Tourism Northern Ireland and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in the staging of this year’s event.

The event welcomed guests from the Hillsborough area and further afield, as well principal Festival sponsors Turkish Airlines, Phoenix Natural Gas, Quilter Cheviot and Charles Hurst.