Hear ye, town crier competition to be held at Redfest

TOWN CRIER: Redland town crier Max Bissett rings the bells for the National Town Criers Championship to be held for the first time in the Redlands, at RedFest on September 3.

TOWN CRIER: Redland town crier Max Bissett rings the bells for the National Town Criers Championship to be held for the first time in the Redlands, at RedFest on September 3.

Redland town crier Max Bissett may not have won a national town criers championship, but feels as if he has with the National Town Criers Championship to be held for the first time in the Redlands.

Now in its 25th year, the championship will test the mettle of 28 Australian and two guest criers from New Zealand in a competition being staged at RedFest on Saturday, September 3.

The championship will include one morning “home” cry and later, an afternoon “host” cry. The cries involve each crier stating in 95 to 125 words words about their home area and later about what a great place the Redlands is.

Redland City town crier and chairman of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Australian Town Criers Max Bissett said it was an honour to host the national championships and that the event had been supported by the Redland City Council.

“This event is good for the Redlands.  It’s unique and it will always draw a crowd just by its very nature,” he said.

Already, criers have had to submit their words for their cries.  As part of the judging, the words have been counted.  

He said judging was by five judges who each had specific areas to judge on. One of the judges faces away from the criers and will check that the cries follow exactly what has been submitted, not deviating by even one syllable.  Another judge will check the decibel reading of each cry, with marks awarded for the loudest cries.  Another judge will judge the costume which must be relevant to the late 18th century and the area represented.

The remaining two judges will judge diction, pace, pitch, intonation, pronunciation, content and tone.

“It is important that the criers don’t lose their voices. If they do or their voice cracks, they will be penalised,” Mr Bissett said.

Mr Bissett said his role would be to call up each crier and he would not be competing.  He said he had gained the loudest cry three times and come second in the senior section, but had never won the competition.

“The criers are judged from the moment they move to the stage.  They will ring the bells or blow the trumpet and launch into the cry,” Mr Bissett said.

Mr Bissett said to mark the event, State members Mark Robinson, Don Brown and Matthew McEachon had purchased copies of A Far Cry: a History of Town Crying in Antipodes and donated a copy to each secondary school in the Redlands.

Mr Bissett, 76, of Redland Bay said he took up town crying in 2005, following a conversation with former mayor Don Seccombe. 

“I do it for the love.  It has given me and my wife an interest and we have met some great people.  I have also been able to raise funds for the Cancer Council which is very dear to me. It has been very rewarding,” he said.

Mr Bissett’s costumes have been made by his wife Judy.