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Renewing acquaintances at town crier competition

When I was forced by circumstances beyond my control, namely loss of sight due to macular degeneration, to resign my position of 22 or so years as town crier, I thought I would never again be a participant in a town crier competition. I loved being a town crier, and I really loved attending competitions due to the camaraderie enjoyed at those events with other town criers.

So I was indeed quite excited some time ago when my good friend Lloyd Smith, town crier of Windsor, called and asked if I would be a judge at an international town criers competition being hosted in the Annapolis Valley by three criers from that area.
He knew about my sight problems, but wanted me to judge the category of volume and sustainability, an assignment that required only good hearing ability.
I jumped at the opportunity, because I thought this would be a one-in-a-100 chance for Vicki and I to renew our friendships with criers we used to know well, each of whom I have missed dearly in the years since I had to give up my most favourite activity.
We travelled to Windsor last Wednesday in order to insure we would be on time for the judges briefing during a luncheon prior to the first leg of competition in Windsor.
We were accommodated in a charming Victorian B&B, and the Town of Windsor was so appreciative of our contribution to the competition that they endeavoured to make us feel really welcome by digging up the street in front of our B&B, just as we have in front of our home of Victoria Street here in Amherst.
Vicki and I felt this effort to welcome us was really not necessary, but we appreciated the gesture.
Of course, our hopes of renewing old friendships among the crier crowd was somewhat thwarted by the rules of competition that state no fraternization is to be permitted between judges and participants prior to the competition.I knew about the rules, since I literally wrote those rules back in the day when I was president of the Nova Scotia Guild of Town Criers.
The fact that I knew some of them from those days was not a problem for me as far as fairness was concerned. During the actual assignment I barely had time to pay attention to who was on stage at any point in time.
Judging involved paying attention to diction, volume sustainability throughout the entire cry, and other fine points that go in to making up a proper cry, and then assigning points for each category within the entire cry, and those in a decimal point process so as to avoid the possibility of ties.
It was a demanding assignment, and it gave me a different perspective from that of being a competitor. I enjoyed it though, and because I had Vicki there to write in the scores on the judging sheet, I did not find it all that difficult.
In the end, no scores were revealed at the end of that leg of the competition.
The next two parts of it occurred in Annapolis Royal at Fort Anne on Saturday, where Peter Davies served as host, and in Grand Pre on Sunday, where Gary Long acted as host crier. The total points of all three cries will determine placings in the competition.
Vicki and I enjoyed our visit to Windsor, which we had not visited for a good many years. We did a drive around tour of the town, we ate in a couple restaurants where the food was excellent, and where we finally had a chance to give a hug to some of our former friends, and shake hands with some of those we have never met before.
Criers were present from various places in Canada, Great Britain, U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand. We have not seen the likes of this in Nova Scotia for a good many years, when the late Peter Cox hosted international criers at a competition in Halifax. I was excited to be a participant at this one in Windsor, if only as a judge and not as a participant.
My years as Amherst town crier, and honorary town crier of Oxford, Parrsboro, Springhill and Pugwash, and for a number of years of Dorchester, N.B., were some of the most enjoyable of my adult life.
One aside during the time in Windsor came when we were treated to an appearance of members of the cadet corps from King’s-Edgehill, along with the Pipers from that Corp. We had a chance to have a brief chat with Nick Cheverie, son of Shawn and Kelly Cheverie, who was a participant in the competition as a part of the crier escort team from that cadet corp. It was really nice to see the Town of Windsor inviting participation from the private school on the hill, and I was informed that the school is grateful for the opportunity to participate in a town activity. They look forward to more such opportunities in the future.
So do we!

Jerry Randall is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.

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