Quirky "Conch Honk" Squawks in Key West

Dozens of contestants took part in the 56th annual quirky "Conch Honk" shell blowing competition in Key West. One competing couple even got engaged.

(Published Monday, March 5, 2018)

The squawking sounds of conch filled the air in Key West on Saturday as dozens of people emptied their lungs into tropical shells.

Contestants of all ages showed off their musical chops, or lack of, in the 56th annual "conch honk" shell blowing contest. The quirky competition took place in the lush garden of the Oldest House Museum on the island.

Dressed in an array of floral print, tropical shirts and leis, the contestants showcased their skills on fluted, pink-lined shells, which have been an integral piece of Florida Keys tradition for centuries.

In one show-stopping moment, a contestant got down on one knee with a conch shell in one hand and a ring in the other, and proposed. Cheers and celebratory honking followed as the couple kissed and embraced on stage.

"I was at a loss for words so I just blew the conch shell, then I said yes," said the newly-engaged conch-blower Mary Lou Smith.

Winners of the contest were chosen in various age groups for the quality, duration, loudness, and novelty of the sounds they created. A few past "pucker pros" blew melodies as complex as "Flight of the Bumblebee."