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Ontario woman wins conch-blowing contest in Florida

A Canadian woman and a pediatric cardiologist from Georgia won the men’s and women’s competitions in the annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest in Key West, Florida, using a variety of techniques to impress the judges on Saturday.

Brian Cardis of Macon, Ga., played a Jimmy Buffett song Floats on a pink-lined shell with holes so it can be played as a flute, while Ontario’s Carol Whiteley gave a long, powerful blast with her shell to the top other competitors.

Kardis said he started blowing the sea mollusk about 10 years ago during a family visit to Key West, adapting a technique he learned playing the trumpet as a child.

“You should just pucker your lips as you blow into them,” he said. “To create a sound, you need to make a “pfffft” noise with your lips.

Whiteley said he plays conch at his riverside home to celebrate the sunset.

Judges scored the entrants, ranging from children to the elderly, on the quality, novelty, duration and pitch of the sounds they produced.

Other winners included Michael and Georg Wachter, a couple from Avon Lake, Ohio, who performed a duet parodying an Elvis Presley song. Dog dog which caused cheers and laughter from the audience.

An enduring symbol of the Florida Keys, the conch shell has been used as a nautical signaling device in the region for more than two centuries. The chain of islands was nicknamed the Republic of Conch.

The pageant was conceived by the Old Island Restoration Foundation in 1972 and is held in Key West’s Oldest House Museum Park.

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