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The North American Town Crier Championships

by BW Bedell

The North American Town Crier Championships originated in 1983, under the auspices of the Canadian Guild of Town Criers. There were NATC competitions in 1984 and 1985. The latter was held in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. In 1986 it was held in Kingston Ontario, Canada, sanctioned by the Canadian Guild of Town Criers. Daniel Richer dit la Fleche was host of the 1988 competition at North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Since he was a member of the Canadian Guild of Town Criers this was again the parent body. The 1991 NATC competition was in Decatur, Illinois, USA. again hosted by Daniel Richer dit la Fleche and under the sanction of the Canadian Guild of Town Criers. The 1994 competition was at Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, USA, hosted by Ron Amy, in place of Peter Cox, who was the organizer, and therefore under the sanction of the Nova Scotia Guild of Town Criers. The 1996 NATC competition was in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and since it was hosted by Al Freeman was under the sanction of the Ontario Guild of Town Criers.

There, the members of the American Association of Town Criers, The Ontario Guild of Town Criers and the Canadian Guild of Town Criers, met and agreed to award the 1998 NATC championship to Chris Poole, Town Crier of Hinton, Alberta, Canada. It was under the rules of the Ontario Guild of Town Criers. The 2000 competition was awarded to Niagara Falls Canada but since this was not viable it was awarded to Chesterton Indiana, USA. Their "Wizard of Oz " Festival and Town Crier Competition is, at present, the longest running annual competition in North America, and it was considered appropriate that they should hold the North American Championships. As this was the USA and the American Guild of Town Criers had been chartered in 1997, their rules were used. On the Fifth of July 2002, The Carpenter's Company of Philadelphia and Rich Lalena, their Town Crier, conducted a very successful championship at Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

The North American Town Crier Championships have been fully sanctioned and open to all criers in North America. Because this is a North American open championship, it is the responsibility of the host guild to define the rules. This has made the NATCC one of the most innovative competitions among the many that I have attended. The tradition that was established by the Canadian Guild of Town criers in 1983 has been continued and has proven to be in good hands with Richard Lalena and the American Guild of Town criers for 2002.

Since the NATCC is open to all Town Criers and brings together people from across North America, it is, perhaps, more comprehensive than most. As a competitor since 1986, I would recommend this competition as a "True School for Town Criers." It is next to the Worlds in presenting a diversity of styles and lots of "stuff to steal."

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