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Windsor's Gerrish Street officially reopens during International Town Crier Competition

WINDSOR, N.S. — On a hot, sunny September afternoon, a contingent of town criers, sporting colourful regalia of many styles, marched up a freshly completed Gerrish Street to cry their hearts out.

Escorted by the King’s-Edgehill School 254 Cadet Corps, the criers made a grand entrance Sept. 14 to an eager and sweating crowd.

It was the official launch of the 2017 Annapolis Valley International Town Crier Competition, where 20-plus town criers gathered from all over the world to show off their talents with the hopes of winning top place along with bragging rights.

The day also marked the official opening of Gerrish Street, the main business thoroughfare in downtown Windsor, after a long construction project dubbed ‘the Big Dig’ that lasted for more than three months.  

Representatives from each level of government spoke to the tenacity and resilience of business owners and thanked them for their patience during the process.

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said she was happy with how the project went.

“The merchants went through a lot, but they survived it, they adjusted to it, and they made it easier for their customers to shop here,” Allen said. “Mid Valley Construction were an amazing company to work with, they had a person dedicated to ensure everybody’s well-being. They cleaned windows; they were amazing.”

Allen said she was happy that none of the store owners on Gerrish Street closed or left during the construction process.

Officials and merchants cut a pink ribbon to signify the official reopening of the street before the competition began.

Town crier competition launches

Town criers from around the world greet the residents of Windsor in their colourful regalia as they prepare for the first day of competition.

Criers from Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, across Canada and from further afield took turns with their own unique cries, many injecting a healthy amount of humour and theatrics — each one with a different spin on “Oyez, oyez, oyez.”

Windsor was the first stop during the three-day competition, with the next round in Annapolis Royal and the final at Grand Pre.

Lloyd Smith, town crier for Windsor and West Hants, as well as one of the main organizers of the international competition, said he was thrilled to see things finally underway.

“This has been in the works since 2013, and it’s not only been a dream of mine for a long time, but it looked like it would become a reality,” he said. “When we started this process, I don’t remember anyone who wasn’t in support of it, because we wanted to support the Annapolis Valley.”

Smith said it was also special to tie the event in with Canada’s 150th birthday as well as the official completion of Gerrish Street’s reconstruction.

“I have competed in national and international competitions all over the world, but to bring that tradition to my own community, that fulfills a life long dream for me,” he added.

As one of the hosts of the event, Smith isn’t competing, but he says he’s happy to showcase his own tradition and community.

In 2018, Smith will be marking his 40th year as town crier.

Town criers from around the world greet the residents of Windsor in their colourful regalia as they prepare for the first day of competition.

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