Valley town criers organizing international competition for 2017

Kirk Starratt
Published on March 17, 2016

Town criers Lloyd Smith and Gary Long give a presentation to Kings County councillors about an international town crier competition proposed for the Valley in 2017.

©Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE - Hear ye, hear ye! The Annapolis Valley could play host to an international town crier competition in 2017 as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

“These are more than town criers, they’re international ambassadors of good will,” said Lloyd Smith, the longest serving appointed town crier in North America and the official crier of several Valley municipalities.

He and Gary Long, official town crier of Berwick and Canning, made a presentation about the initiative to Kings County council’s committee of the whole March 15.

Smith said Long has done his homework, conducting research and speaking with other town criers about the initiative. He said Long has the support of other Valley criers in organizing the competition, including himself and Annapolis Royal town crier Peter Davies.

Smith said the idea came after former Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley asked if a world-class town crier competition could be staged in the Valley. Smith said the answer was absolutely, but they first had to ensure the support of the respective communities.

Smith said the County of Kings has always been supportive of tourism, which is in need of a boost. They’ve already visited other Valley councils and the response to the idea has been “phenomenal.”

Long said he attended an international town crier competition in Bermuda last year. One reason was to gauge the interest of other criers in coming to Nova Scotia from September 12 to 17, 2017.

“They were ready to pack their bags and come the next day,” Long said.

He said competitions are excellent promotional and tourism events, as criers promote where they’re going beforehand and through social media while at competitions. They hope to attract 25 criers from around the globe. He said this could also help extend the Valley tourism season.

Long said they plan to hold three cries in the competition, one promoting Canada’s 150th birthday, one about the Annapolis Valley and an open event where criers can talk about whatever they like.

He said the tentative budget is $44,000. This includes an estimated $17,000 for accommodations, $8,000 for transportation and $6,300 for advertising. Funding will also be needed for a banquet, meals, gifts and awards. Long said they don’t know for sure but NovaScotian Crystal might be donating the awards.

“With the right advertising and promotion, this can be a big item for the Annapolis Valley,” he said.

The towns of Kentville and Windsor have already committed funds. Long said they’re asking towns for $600 each and to sponsor meals and hospitality. They’re looking for $3,000 from the County of Kings. Long said they’d also be seeking federal funding.

Tentative itinerary for 2017 crier competition

-       Sept. 12: Registration and reception.

-       Sept. 13: Visits to Kentville and Wolfville farmers markets.

-       Sept. 14: First day of competition in Windsor at a site yet to be determined.

-       Sept. 15: Free day.

-       Sept. 16: Second day of competition in Annapolis Royal at Fort Anne. National historic sites will feature free admission in 2017 in recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday.

-       Sept. 17: Third and final day of competition at Grand Pre national historic site and evening awards banquet at a site yet to be determined.