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Key West: Conch Shell Blowing Contest

- Christine

Maybe “American Idol” winners aren’t abandoning their guitars to play conch shell concerts, but fans of the fluted, pink-lined shell are puckering up for the 50th annual test of “conch musicianship” in Key West!

The Conch Shell Blowing Contest begins at noon Saturday, March 3, in the tropical garden of Key West’s Oldest House, 322 Duval St. Nicknamed the Conch Honk, the lighthearted competition salutes Key West’s seafaring heritage and is presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation. The tradition of blowing a conch shell in the Florida Keys began centuries ago. The Keys’ connection with conch goes far beyond instrumental and communications applications.

Several dozen kids and adults are expected to compete in the March 3 “conch honk,” showcasing their pucker power and honoring an important Keys tradition. Spectators can expect more laughs than musical inspiration and a surprise visit from some characters from Key West’s seafaring history. While most entrants only manage blasts or squawks, each year a few produce complex melodies that impress judges and audiences alike. Winners are chosen for the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of the sounds they make, with trophies awarded in multiple age categories.

The 2012 Conch Shell Blowing Contest is free to enter and watch. Contestants can register at the Oldest House from 10:30 a.m. to noon March 3, or at the event itself if space is still available. Those lacking “instruments” can purchase conch shells on site.

For more information visit: www.oirf.org or call: 305-294-9501

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