4th Annual Apalachicola Oyster Cook-off - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

4th Annual Apalachicola Oyster Cook-off

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When Apalachicola's Volunteer Fire Department needed a new fire truck, the community stepped in to help and that act of generosity has become a tradition.

Inspired by the city's world famous oyster, citizens created something that gives back to the community.

It's a celebration of the thing for which Apalachicola is well-known.

"I prefer Apalachicola oysters on the half shell with Louisiana hot sauce," said Ronnie Thomas.

"I have some fried ones here they are a pretty darn good, but raw is the best by far," said John Hodges. 

Many contestants tried their luck at winning the tastiest oyster dish trophy, some even adding unique ingredients.

George Pruett, of the East Point Volunteer Fire Department said, "We made lazy Lester, the same thing we made last year.. its kind of like a secret variant of oysters Rockefeller, with a way big twist."

After three lucky judges sampled each dish, East Point Fire Department took home the first place win for the second year in a row. 

The gourmet oyster competition has become a culinary tradition, but it started as a fundraiser to help the fire department.

"It was actually 2009 when we lost a home to a small electrical fire on the south side," said Shelley Shepard, a member of the Oyster Cook-Off board. "The fire fighters were working as hard as they could, but it was evident their tools weren't as good as they could be.. so that's when a group of us got together and said we have to do something."

With money raised they were able to get a new fire truck. 

"The past two house fires we went to, we never did have to hook to the hydrants.. we could have we were ready too but our big trucks took care of it.. that's a wonderful thing to have," said Fire Chief George Watkins.

Now, The department depends on the cook-off to make the annual truck payment.

"We just say thank you to everyone coming out to support the event," said Shepard. 

Last year, the event raised about $30,000 and organizers say by the looks of the turnout this year, that total was probably exceeded.