KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — For a Delaware woman and a Florida man, past mastery of the trombone was the secret to winning top honors in Key West’s annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest on Saturday.

Jayne Challman, a Rehoboth Beach, Delaware woman who blew an excerpt from Aram Khachaturian’s "Sabre Dance" to win the women’s division, said playing the trombone as a child taught her the puckering and blowing techniques required for successful "conch honking."

As well as winning the contest, her shell-playing shells have a practical application.

"I have a tiki bar at home, and so when it’s time for happy hour, I let everybody know in the neighborhood," Challman said. "I give a happy hour blow on the conch shell."

Summerland Key, Florida resident Corey Fritz earned the men’s division victory by playing an intricate original composition on a huge polished conch shell from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

"Today I played a piece that I wrote on the conch shell myself, so I guess it was the debut. It was the world premiere," said Fritz, a professional pianist and trombonist who earned applause from several hundred spectators.

Other winners included Key West’s Kyla Bender, 12, who blew her conch shell while wearing a back feathered tutu and conch-shell tiara.

Judges evaluated entrants on the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of sounds they produced.

The contest attracted entrants including a costumed Santa Claus impersonator and a group of women in pink-feather boas who called themselves the Key West Classical Conch Blowhards.

The fluted, pink-lined conch shell, a symbol of the Florida Keys, has been used as a signaling device in the islands for centuries.

The Keys island chain is also known as the Conch Republic.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox