For crying out loud - what a great festival!

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Oh Yea, Oh Yea, Oh Yea, now hear this .... Garstang’s Art and Music festival ended on a high note as the town resounded with the sound of ten town criers competing in the market town’s third Town Criers’ contest.

It was something of a sister act too - for Mistress of Ceremonies, Garstang Town Crier Hilary McGrath who hosted and compered the event, called upon some excellent help as an adjudicator ... her sister Marjorie Dodds, a retired teacher who is Town Crier for Chester le Street, near Durham.

Garstang Town Crier Hilary McGrath and her sister, Marjorie Dodds, town crier for Chester-le-Street

Garstang Town Crier Hilary McGrath and her sister, Marjorie Dodds, town crier for Chester-le-Street

Marjorie and husband Edward - resplendent in their distinctive Crier costumes - were pleased to assist with the Bank Holiday event. Although Marjorie could not resist quipping: “They don’t let me cry, so need somebody to be an adjudicator, but one of these days I shall come and compete!”

Mayor of Garstang Coun Chris Ryan was on duty as one of the judges joined by local Town and County Councillor Sandra Perkins and Mary Medcalf and Sue Hubbard, who both belong to Garstang Ladies Speakers’ Club.

Those competing came from as far afield as Biddulph in Staffordshire, Kidsgrove and Lichfield.

But the crown went to Cumbria, with Kendal Crier Richard Mathews being judged the winner.

The event took place in Cherestanc Square and an appreciative crowd listened as in the first round the Criers spoke about their home towns and in the second declaimed on Garstang’s historic buildings.

Coun Ryan said: “It’s definitely a highlight of the mayoral year...They were all excellent - the quality was superb. It was difficult to judge.”

Garstang crier Hilary gave her verdict too: “It was just wonderful that the sun shone for us and to be out in the square with an enthusiastic audience.”

Meanwhile, around town there was plenty for Bank Holiday visitors to enjoy ranging from the Country Market - located for the festival Monday in the old Council Offices - a grand book fair at the United Reformed Church and an Arts Centre Open day where local organisations ranging from camera and art clubs to the poetry appreciation group, Garstang Musical productions, bridge players and the floral art group had set up stall to promote their organisations.

The festival ran from August 17 to 26 and activities ranged from musical moments with soprano saxophonist John Gilmore to a concert with Encore Opera, children’s crafts, concerts and a poetry workshop led by Professor James Dodding.

Garstang Town Crier Contest

Roll of honour

Winner: Richard Mathews (Kendal)

Runner Up: Ken Knowles (Lichfield)

Best Content of Afternoon Cry:Devlin Hobson (Kidsgrove)

Best Dressed Crier: Laurie Gilbert (Batley and Dewsbury)

Best Dressed Escort (Barbara Mathews)

Best Dressed Couple: Devlin and Jenny Hobson (Kidsgrove)