World Town Crier Tournament begins

Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper (centre left) and Central Otago town crier Paddy-Ann Pemberton ...
Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper (centre left) and Central Otago town crier Paddy-Ann Pemberton (centre right) welcome town criers from around the world yesterday. Photo by Liam Cavanagh.

Hear ye, hear ye - the Central Otago World Town Crier Tournament has begun.

About 20 town criers, from Canada, the United States, Australia, England, Wales and New Zealand have arrived in Central Otago for the event.

The colourful criers with their bells and bugles crowded the Central Otago District Council chambers yesterday, where they were officially welcomed by Mayor Tony Lepper.

Mr Lepper said the town criers would be ''purple dots'' around the district over the next week, and people would enjoy the way they ''brighten up'' the area.

Central Otago town crier and event host Paddy-Ann Pemberton said she was ''absolutely'' overwhelmed with the turnout and ''extremely'' humbled by the support she had received from other town criers.

It is the first time the event has been hosted in New Zealand.

It runs until September 30 and coincides with the Alexandra Blossom Festival.

Three competition ''cries'' will be held to find the best town crier, contestants to be judged on their lyrics, performance and delivery.

The first judged cry will be in Alexandra today, the town criers set to spend the rest of the day visiting schools and rest-homes in the town.

Roxburgh will host the second judged cry tomorrow, the town criers also set to participate in the Blossom Festival Grand Procession in Alexandra the same day.

The town criers will head back to Cromwell on Sunday to attend a community concert, and on Monday they will tour the Maniototo.

Cromwell will host the final judged cry on Tuesday, before the tournament awards dinner on Wednesday night.

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