The Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton, created and granted sole authority over the town by King James II through the Dongan Patent of 1686, will hold the 29th annual Largest Clam Contest on Sunday at noon. The contest, as well as a clam chowder contest, will take place on the grounds of the trustees’ offices at the Lamb Building on Bluff Road in Amagansett.
A free clam bar and clam chowder from Stuart’s Seafood Market in Amagansett will be offered, and Job Potter and Steven Tekulsky will play music. As in years past, representatives of the town’s shellfish hatchery will set up an exhibit and explain their function, and the East End Classic Boat Society will sell tickets for the raffle boat they built this year, a Catspaw dinghy.
Hard clams harvested from Lake Montauk, Napeague Harbor, Accabonac Harbor, and Three Mile Harbor are eligible for the largest clam competition. Entrants bearing a town shellfish permit have been asked to take their clam contestants to Stuart’s, Gosman’s Fish Market in Montauk, the Amagansett Seafood Store, or the Seafood Shop in Wainscott through Saturday in order to be considered in Sunday’s competition.
Prizes donated by local shops and restaurants will be awarded in several categories: the largest overall clam, the largest clam from each harbor entered by an adult, the largest clam from each harbor entered by those age 4 to 14, and the best overall clam chowder.
The annual contest is usually a lighthearted affair that provides the trustees an opportunity to explain their role in the town’s management to residents and visitors. The Dongan Patent is one of the earliest documents in North America to provide for a representative government by elected officials, and the nine-member trustee board represents the original government of East Hampton.
As such, the trustees managed and made allotments of the town’s common lands, and have continuously functioned as an autonomous governing body, maintaining jurisdiction over many of the town’s beaches, bottomlands, and waterways.