Matagorda seafood fest helps community, brings awareness to fish industry
MATAGORDA - Lauren Hinton was there to win.
The crowd cheered her on as she tried to beat eight others in the raw oyster competition Saturday at the Matagorda Seafood Festival.
And won she did, eating 88 raw oysters and beating last year's record by five.
"The secret was to just swallow them and let them slide down my throat," said Hinton, a 2006 Bay City High grad who was home visiting family. "But I won't be eating oysters again any time soon."
In its second year, the festival serves shrimp and oysters caught locally by Buddy Treybig of Buddy's Seafood.
Treybig, who started the festival last year, had always wanted to help the community. Last year, he thought of starting a festival that would help the school district and bring the community together.
"Why not do something that can bring people to Matagorda, feature local music and entertainment and have fun at the same time, all with the goal to raise money for the school?" he said.
As a Matagorda school board member, Treybig noticed grants and funding for schools were being cut in Texas.
Treybig also said it was important to bring awareness to the fishing industry in the county.
"There's a lot here that still do this job locally," he said. "I want to show the importance of seafood in Matagorda, as well as bring tourism back to the area."
Last year, the festival grossed $43,000, and organizers were able to give the school district $25,000.
This year, the festival supports several organizations: Matagorda ISD, Matagorda Volunteer Fire Department, Matagorda Community Latch Key Program, Matagorda ministerial Alliance Food Pantry and Matagorda Historical Society.
"We hope this festival becomes bigger each year, that way we can help other organizations in the county," he said.
For the festival, 18,000 shrimp were butter-flied, breaded and fried for the day of the event. About 150 gallons of oysters also were used.
Treybig said he had never done any charity work before and now enjoys it.
"It all started with this idea that took off," he said, "and now I am so glad we all have the same vision to help our community."
Hinton wasn't as sure about how the eating contest made her feel, but she joked she would feel better after she burped.
A native of Matagorda and who now lives in San Antonio, where she works for EOG Resources as a land technician, Hinton said she had never participated in any eating contest, but was glad she made it through.
"After swallowing the third bag of raw oysters, I knew I couldn't do it any more," she said. "I am just glad I was not the one who threw up."