HALIFAX -- With tourism numbers down because of COVID-19, Shediac, New Brunswick – the lobster capital of the world – is turning to what it knows best by hosting a lobster roll competition between local restaurants. Using their knowledge and expertise of the crustacean, restauranteurs hope to salvage a dismal a tourism season.

Restaurant owner, Hugo Borlaise, believes his more traditional style lobster roll, named the “Claws and Knuckles Lobster Roll,” will be the fan favourite during the upcoming Lobster Roll Time competition.

Seventeen restaurants are participating in the competition. For local businesses, the event couldn't come at a better time.

Shediac is usually bustling in early August, but many would-be-tourists aren't travelling because of COVID-19.

“This summer, we’ll take any help we can get,” says Borlaise. “I mean, yeah, it’ll help. Everything helps –especially in these times.”

“It’s a nice way to celebrate the fishing industry at the start of the lobster fishing season,” says Lobster Roll Time spokesperson, Jonathan Chevarie.

Organizers are hoping the culinary competition will have regional appeal.

“We started advertising this event in the bubble provinces to have people come in and celebrate with us and be part of our community,” says Chevarie. “Hopefully, our community will support the festival also.”

Lobster Roll Time is taking the place of the annual Shediac Lobster Festival, which would have celebrated its 71st anniversary. The long-running festival was cancelled for 2020 due to the pandemic. Often doubling as a homecoming, it would often bring 50,000 people to the town.

“I think it’s going to drive people into Shediac – Greater Shediac actually, because it’s from Shediac Bridge to Pointe-Du-Chêne,” says Sophie Belliveau-Doiron of the Shediac Chamber of Commerce.

And with plenty of delicious crustacean creations, organizers hope they have the perfect recipe for a successful event to help business owners survive the summer.