VISITORS to Chester may need to invest in some earplugs from today as 24 loud-mouthed town criers do battle in a global shout-off.
The contestants have made the trip to the city from 10 different countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
Decked out in flamboyant garb, they will commence battle in Town Hall Square today (Wednesday) at noon, delivering a 'Hometown Cry', extolling the virtues of their home towns.
The competition will continue on Thursday when the criers will deliver a 'Law and Order Cry', reminding the gathered throngs of legal matters from the city's history.
The final round takes place at noon on Saturday, in Abbey Square, when the criers will deliver a 'Land Rover Cry', to satisfy the sponsors, entitled ‘What I would like to do with my Land Rover’.
The scores over the three days will then be totted up and the World Champion will be crowned.
Chester is no stranger to hosting the event, having welcomed the world's top criers in 2001, 2004 and 2010.
Chester’s own crier, David Mitchell, said: “Chester has earned an excellent reputation for putting on a well-organised competition and our historic city provides the perfect backdrop for such an event. Some criers have applied to return for the fourth time, so we must be getting something right.”
Criers in this year's competition hail from from England, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Channel Islands and the USA.
They include seven past or present national champions, and five past or present world champions, including the reigning Chester World Champion, Chris Whyman of Kingston, Canada.
Taking part in the event are Martin Wood, from Shrewsbury, the world’s tallest town crier, standing seven feet two inches tall, and carrying a bell as big as a bucket. Carpenters at the Crowne Plaza have built a bed extension to ensure he is well rested for the tournament.
Billy Baxter, the newly-appointed town crier of Llandudno will also be competing in the event. He lost his sight to an infection while serving in the military in Bosnia and will have his words fed to him via an earpiece, rather than reading from a scroll.
All 24 criers will be out and about this week, and will literally shout from the rooftops during a special Cathedral at Height tour at Chester Cathedral.
For more information about the tournament visit www.chestertowncriers.com