We brought home honors at the World Town Crier Tournament in New Zealand!
Sounds of bells ringing and the shouts of, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez” could be heard throughout the land during the last week of September, 2015, when The World Town Crier Tournament was held in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. Bev and Jerry Praver were invited to compete in the tournament against sixteen of the finest Town Criers in the world from England, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The tournament was timed to coincide with the fifty-ninth annual Alexandra Blossom Festival, the longest running festival in New Zealand. More information about Central Otago can be found here and here.
Jerry took second place overall making him the second best Town Crier in the world and Bev finished seventh out of eighteen and was the best woman in the competition. Together, Bev and Jerry were awarded the coveted media prize given to the crier who best publicized the world competition in their own local area.
The Pravers’ trip to New Zealand for this competition was partially funded by a grant from The Cambria Tourism Board.
The most recent world town crier tournament was held in the Annapolis Valley near the south shore of the Bay Of Fundy in Nova Scotia in September, 2017. This was a three cry competition which was be judged on Continuity; Poise, Bearing and Confidence; Clarity, Projection and Inflection; and Timing and Sustained Volume. The first cry was delivered in Windsor and was an open cry in which criers could read a proclamation on the subject of their choice. The second cry was held in Annapolis Royale on the topic of Canada150 - the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Canadian Confederation. The final cry was in Grand Pre and the topic was The Annapolis Valley. Jerry and Bev were there attempting to bring honor to The County of San Luis Obispo and The Village of Cambria.
But, alas, it was not to be. The competition was won by Mark Molnar, the Town Crier of St. Catherines in Ontario, Canada. Second place went to Paul Gough from the
Borough of Nuneaton and Bedworth, England and Daniel Richer dit La Fleche of Ottowa, Ontario, Canada finished third. There were nineteen Town Criers in the competition (including
5 women) representing Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand and the United States. You can watch a video about this tournament
To learn more about Bev and Jerry Praver, read their fascinating biography.
You can watch them read a proclamation at the San Luis County Board of Supervisors meeting informing the board that they would be capably represented at the Central Otago World Town Crier Tournament in New Zealand later that year by following this link
You can read about Town Crier competitions in general and that one in particular here.
Please feel free to use any of the images below for any purpose whatever.
Jerry is dressed in his full regalia and is awaiting his turn to read a proclamation during the 2017 World Town Crier Competition held in three communities in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada.
On February 23, 2016, Bev and Jerry delivered a proclamation at The San Luis Obispo County Supervisors meeting commemorating the sesquicentennial of the establishment of The Village of Cambria in 1866.
Jerry accepts the second place trophy from Tony Lepper, Mayor of Central Otago District at the awards dinner following the 2015 World Town Crier Tournament
Bev and Jerry receiving the coveted media prize awarded to the crier(s) who best publicized the 2015 World Town Crier Tournament in their local area from Tony Lepper, Mayor of Central Otago District
The Town criers who competed in the 2015 World Town Crier Tournament pose for a group picture with their escorts in Alexandra, Central Otago on the south island of New Zealand.
Bev shouted out her best cry finishing in seventh place and was the best female crier in the world at the 2015 World Town Crier Tournament in New Zealand in 2015.
Jerry giving one of the cries for which he was named the second best Town Crier in the world at the 2015 World Town Crier Tournament in New Zealand in 2015.
Bev and Jerry at the dedication of the new playground equipment at Shamel Park in Cambria, California in 2003
Bev and Jerry helping Linda Hampton celebrate her 100th birthday
Jerry Praver using his best “Oyez” at the North American Town Crier Competition held in Anacortes, Washington in 2011. Jerry finished fourth overall and was judged to be the second best American Town Crier.
Bev getting their attention in Anacortes, Washington in 2011 at the North American Town Crier Competition
Bev receiving the trophy for Best American Crier at the North American Town Crier Competition held in Anacortes, Washington in 2011. She finished second overall losing to a Canadian crier by one point
Twenty six Town Criers and their escorts in front of the Wax Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Criers from England, Australia, USA, Belgium and Canada competed in the 2006 World Town Crier Invitational Competition
Ninety one Town Criers and their escorts at the Eden Project in St. Austell, Cornwall, England during the 2003 World Town Crier Competition
Bev and Jerry give a presentation at the Atascadero Rotary Club in 2015
Bev and Jerry Praver have been married to each other for fifty-seven years and they have been singing and playing folk music almost from the beginning. In 1987, Jerry resigned from his job as an engineer at The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and they moved to Cambria in central California, becoming full time musicians, For the next 16 years they presented American folk music programs in schools throughout the southwest.
On September 19, 2000, Shirley Bianchi, who was then Supervisor from District 2 of San Luis Obispo County, read a proclamation in chambers declaring Bev and Jerry Praver to be the Official Town Criers of the county. At noon on that day, they read their first public proclamation on the steps of the County Government Center.
Since that time the Pravers have been seen at many events, both public and private, including birthdays, weddings, retirements, dedications of public facilities, establishment openings, parades and more.
When they are crying, they wear uniforms modeled on American men’s and women’s fashions of the late 1700s created for them by a professional costume maker from the Los Angeles legitimate theaters.
As a rule, Bev and Jerry present a cry together. They are one of only three married couples in the world in which both partners are criers and they are the only couple in the world who cry together. They are the only criers married to each other in America.
They begin by ringing their bells and repeating the familiar call to attention, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez” (hear ye, hear ye, hear ye) in two-part harmony. They then read a proclamation which they have specifically written for the occasion, alternating phrases. They complete the cry by shouting “God Bless America” or “spread the word” in unison.
In competitions, however, they are required to cry separately, competing against each other as well as the other criers. Most of the time Jerry has scored higher than Bev. In 2005 Jerry won the competition in La Connor, Washington and finished third in Anacortes. He also finished second in Anacortes in 2004 and third in Holland, Michigan in 2009. In the last North American Town Crier Competition in 2011, however, Bev made history by finishing second (by one point!) to a Canadian and was named Best American Town Crier. This was the first time an American has ever finished in the top three in this competition and the first time a woman has ever finished in the top three or been named Best American Town Crier. Jerry came in fourth in this competition and was named the second best American Town Crier.
Town Crier competitions (also called tournaments) occur several times a year in various locations throughout the world. They can be quite small and informal attracting only a handful of criers usually from nearby locations. On the other hand, they are sometimes very large. World competitions have had more than 150 criers participate. Generally, any crier is free to participate in any competition but some have geographical restrictions such as The North American Town Crier Competition which is restricted to criers from America or Canada and some are invitational in which a limited number of criers are selected from applicants by a committee.
Each participating crier is required to deliver from one to three cries on specific topics chosen by the host crier. Typical topics include a hometown cry in which the crier attempts to persuade listeners to visit the location they represent, a commercial cry which sings the praises of a local business which has helped to sponsor the competition, or a historical cry dealing with the history of the area where the competition is held. The number of words in each cry must be within a specified range such as 100 to 125 words.
Criers are judged on various criteria such as accuracy, clarity, deportment, cry content and sustained volume. Usually there are at least three judges who are local officials (such as the mayor) or other prominent citizens. In major competitions, such as the world competitions, judges are seated 60 meters (about 200 feet) away from the criers so loudness and good diction are very important.
When Town Criers get together they are nearly always competing with one another. But, they are a very friendly group and most of the time is spent socializing. Experienced criers are always willing to advise or help novices and all criers know that judging is highly variable and, with a little luck, anyone can win a competition.
In 2015, Bev and Jerry Praver attended the Wold Town Crier Tournament in Central Otago, New Zealand. In this competition, each crier was required to read three proclamations which they wrote on three separate topics in three different towns in Central Otago. In this competition each proclamation was judged on vocal proficiency, confidence and bearing, engaging the audience, content, and accuracy.
The first round of proclamations was read in Alexandra during the Alexandra Blossom Festival and was a “hometown” cry in which each crier sang the praises of the area they represent and tried to encourage listeners to visit. In this round, Jerry finished fourth and Bev was eleventh. The second cry was read in Roxborough and each crier was assigned a business which had helped sponsor the tournament. Jerry read his proclamation about Belissimo Hair Salon and came in second. Bev cried about the Backpackers Hotel and finished seventh. The final day of the competition took place in Cromwell, a town founded during the gold rush in New Zealand, and each crier was required to include the word “gold” in their proclamation. Jerry finished in a tie for second place with Chris Wyman of Kingston, Ontario, Canada and Bev came in tenth.
Each day, medals were given for the three top criers and, at the awards dinner, trophies were awarded for the three best Town Criers overall plus the media prize, best dressed crier, best dressed escort, best dressed couple and best ambassador which was awarded to the crier who best represented his or her local area during the entire week. Of the seventeen prizes, Bev and Jerry brought home four.
This was a very high level competition. The eighteen Town Criers (five women and thirteen men) included the reigning North American Champion, the reigning American Champion (Bev), one crier who has been world champion twice before and another who has won the crown an astounding seven times in the past. The newly crowned World Champion Town Crier is Ken Knowles of Litchfield, Staffordshire, England. Jerry took second place and third place was awarded to Daniel Richer dit La Fleche of Ottowa, Ontario, Canada.
The next World Town Crier Tournament was held in Nova Scotia in Eastern Canada in September, 2017. Neither Bev nor Jerry finished in the top three in this competition