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PHOTOS/VIDEO: Comp to shell fish a king hit

BIG PRAWN: Jet and Tully Burke came to see-food.
BIG PRAWN: Jet and Tully Burke came to see-food. Ballina Prawn Festival

DESPITE the prawny weather, locals got hooked into the 2017 Ballina Prawn Festival to celebrate the beloved Ballina King Prawn at Missingham Park on Saturday.

Highlights of the annual festival promoting Ballina's renowned king prawn, included the skate board competition and fire works.

The competition to shell fish was a king hit among punters.

Alstonville's Russell Coombs won the prawn-eating contest for the third year in a row.

The father-of-four impressed crowds as he peeled and ate half a kilo of prawn in one minute and 37 seconds.

His fierce and unique shelling technique - "rip off the head first, then the next three knuckles" - knocked out all others.

Mr Coombs did admit it was a "slack" effort compared to last year, when he ate the same amount of prawns in one minute and 19 seconds.

"It's probably the prawns which keeps me coming back every year, I don't mind a good feed of prawns," he said.

"I went up to a prawn festival in Tin Can Bay four years ago and I won that.

"So my kids are getting used to me winning all the time, they're not as proud this year.

Russell Coombs can shell fish real quick.
Russell Coombs can shell fish real quick.

As for next year, Mr Coombs has bought 550kg of prawn from Cairns in July.

"I have a fair bit to chew on for a bit of practice for next year.

"I think the community needs to get more behind the festival."

Ballina Prawn Festival organiser Martin Corkey said no formal count had been completed at time of print, but organisers were happy.

For the first time this year each food truck had a prawn dish for visitors to enjoy.

A cover charge of $10, in place for the second year, included live entertainment from Busby Marou.

"It was very successful considering the weather, the fireworks and our lead act were a great success, and the prawn shelling competition was very competitive," Mr Corkey said.

Residents who missed the show can buy fresh wild-caught Ballina king prawns at the Ballina Fishermen's Co-op.

Topics:  ballina fishermen's co-op russell coombes


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