Winner of conch blowing contest plays 45 seconds

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) -- A man from Key West has won the island city's 50th annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest.

Clinton Curry impressed the judges Saturday by kicking off his performance with a 45-second blast on a single shell. The 38-year-old then played an excerpt from composer Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" followed by a long toot blowing two shells.

Competitors from kids to seniors were judged on the quality, novelty, duration and loudness of the sounds they produced.

Blowing the fluted, pink-lined conch shell has been a Key West tradition since the early 1800s, when seafaring settlers used it for signaling. Native-born islanders are called Conchs, and the Florida Keys are nicknamed the Conch Republic.

The Old Island Restoration Foundation started the event.