Mary Heary TT Contest

Welcome to the new home of everything you wanted to know about Mary Heary Oakville Invitational Tall Tales Contest (the Mary Heary for short).

You will find everything you and your club will need to know about holding a club level tall tales contest and Oakville wide competition. The winner is awarded a trophy and bragging rights for the year!

Quick links to information below:

Next Mary Heary Contest

Date: Monday May 27th, 2019
Location: Abbey Arms Pub, 481 North Service Rd W. Oakville, ON L6M 2V6 (
Timing: come early to get good seating
   6:00pm come for drinks and food (pay your own way)
   7:00pm Judges and contestants orientation
   7:30pm Contest Begins
   ~9:30pm Winner Announced
Note: Abbey Arms Pub has graciously donated their pub and facilities (microphone & PA system) for the event. Please show your appreciation with patronage from their food and drink menu. Separate bills issued.

Please note this is NOT a District 86 nor TM International event. It is based on Toastmasters Tall Tales Contest format and evaluation structure. It is by invite only (to Oakville based clubs).

Who Was Mary Heary?

In honour of Mary Heary, a former Oakville Toastmaster, who was known for her outrageous stories and tall tales that kept people in stitches. She was part of First Oakville Toastmasters Club and later the Glen Abbey Toastmasters Club and passed away in the late 1990s. Her trademark was the tall tale.

This fun Toastmasters contest has become an annual event for all Oakville based Toastmasters Clubs.

What Is a Tall Tale?

Truth or fiction? It’s funny either way!

What is it?

A tall tale is a fictional story which is told in the form of a personal narrative or anecdotes. It challenges the listener’s credulity with comic outlandishness, and performs different functions depending on whether it is heard as true or as fictional. The secret to a good tall tale is interesting contest and exaggeration!

Features of a Tall Tale

A Tall Tale should Include the following features – delivered within 3-5 minutes:

  • A CHARACTER with extraordinary abilities and a specific goal. In the best tall tales these characters are also, for the most part, ordinary people with which the audience can easily identify.
  • A PROBLEM that is solved in a humorous way.
  • A CAREFUL BLEND OF EXAGGERATED AND CREDIBLE DETAILS. Don’t exaggerate everything in your tale. Use some realistic details to hook your audience, because they can picture themselves in such a situation. Then blend in exaggerated details to amaze them with a tall tale. With this judicious combination of various details you can really set up your audience to laugh. For example, a story about an ordinary person walking into a cave and encountering a bat as big as a bear cub can be hilarious. A story about a ten-foot-tall man digging a tunnel to the center of the Earth, where he encounters dragons and dinosaurs, is more fantasy than funny.
  • A COMICAL ENDING. The last lines should make the audience chuckle and/or groan. Clever twists and puns can also be sprinkled throughout the story.

So what are you waiting for? Get started with creating your own Tall Tale ranging from mystery, adventure, or even whopping fish tales!

Why Should I Participate?

“Are we supposed to come up with a ‘Paul Bunyon’ type of fable?” Yes, in the fact that the objective is to use your imagination and develop and present a story you’ve created that has exaggerations and twists and turns. No, because there is supposed to be a point to your story.

Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of public speaking. Not only do stories keep your audience glued to your message, but the process of creating stories takes time, patience and diligence. Once you become skilled at developing stories and presenting them, you will be much more able to make higher quality presentations at work. Even though you might not use a fictional story when presenting your latest architecture design, you will find that your experience in the Tall Tales competition would help you present the details of your architecture design work to your clients and firm, for example.

The point is that you should approach participation in the Tall Tales competition as an opportunity to practice your detailed story development and presentation skills. This opportunity will increase your speaking skills in other types of speeches, not just the next time you tell a humorous, exaggerated, make-believe story.

Examples of Tall Tales

Search YouTube for examples of Tall Tales speeches. A couple of examples are:

Below are links for instructional help and videos:

Club Tall Tales Contest Package

So Oakville Toastmaster Clubs, hold your own club level Tall Tales contest. Complete Tall Tales Speech Contest Kit available on Toastmasters International (zip file download). The kit contains the evaluation criteria and judges packages.

If your club cannot hold a club contest, then appoint a member to represent your club at the Mary Heary! Invite the club members and friends to come out to support your club and share some food, drink, and many laughs with your fellow Oakville Toastmasters.

Basic Rules:

  • Any club member in good standing. So, every member is eligible to participate. No excuses!
  • Timing is 3-5 minutes (plus or minus 30 seconds). Too short (less than 2:30 minutes) or too long (greater than 5:30 minutes) gets you disqualified. So you really have to whittle down your story to the most important points.
  • Must be an original story with original content. Best to use something that happened to you so you’re not suspected of copying an existing story.
  • You can choose any topic. There is no topic limitation. You can choose any topic you want your tale to be about. It just has to be original. So, no adapting from a children’s story book.
  • Humour and props may be used and are even suggested to illustrate the story.
  • Do NOT prepare a written introduction as only your name and speech title will be announced when you are introduced.
  • Read in the Tips section below about recommended microphone usage. At the Mary Heary Invitational (at the pub) you will be speaking into a microphone (corded with a fairly generous length of cord). You want to ensure your microphone (in your hand) stays close to your mouth else your audio will drop and we may miss your punch lines!


These tips will help you with your Tall Tale and presenting your Tall Tale at the Mary Heary Invitational (at the pub):

  • HAND HELD MICROPHONE Usage: At the Mary Heary (at the pub) you will be given a corded (fair length of cord) hand held microphone to speak into and broadcasted over the PA system to the entire pub. Practice holding the microphone in one hand and keeping it close to your face. If you move your face left and right, or up and down without moving the microphone, your voice will drop off. Adapt your Tall Tale accordingly for this “physical restriction”.
  • Have a small 10-20 second introduction to your story so that people know where you’re going with it.
  • Plan a story plot that stays on track that people can follow.
  • Create a build-up in your story to a climactic point.
  • Use a TON of exaggeration that will naturally bring humour.
  • Have pauses to give people time to laugh and breathe.
  • Try not to yell at your audience as many of the samples I saw on YouTube had a lot of yelling.
  • Describe details to the point where the audience has a picture in their minds of what’s happening.
  • Include surprise twists in your story to throw the audience off guard and so that things happen that are unexpected.
  • Tie-up your story with a final point as you would any speech.
  • Leave ’em laughing paint a picture in our minds of a story with details so that we can picture it.

Past Winners

If you have accurate historical information about past winners of this contest, or noted errors on this page, please reach out to Area D83 Director to review and update this information. Thank you in advance for your attention to historical detail.

2019 Mary Heary Oakville Invitational (at Abbey Arms Pub)

  • 1st Place: Elvis Gregov “Reaf Remover” (Own The Moment)
  • 2nd Place: Iryna Boyko “Careful Driver Appreciation Day” (Trafalgar)
  • 3rd Place: Rebecca Valero “Micro Manager” (First Oakville)
From left to right: Supritha Pai (Contest Chair), Victoria Oswell (Suez), Muhammad Asif (Callisto), Mashaal Effendi (Sheridan Bruins of Oakville), Iryna Boyko (Trafalgar), Doug Flowers (Horizon), Rebecca Valero (First Oakville), Paul Wouters (Mansion), Krista Rowan (Glen Abbey), Elvis Gregov (Own The Moment).
Elvis Gregov First Place Mary Heary Oakville Invitational Tall Tales Contest 2019 and daughter Ella

2018 Mary Heary Oakville Contest (hosted by Trafalgar Toastmasters)

  • 1st Place: Marie-Pierre Déry “Dandy-Lion” (Horizon)
  • 2nd Place:
  • 3rd Place:


  • 1st Place: Scarlette Lui (Trafalgar)
  • 2nd Place: ??
  • 3rd Place: ??


  • 1st Place: Marie-Pierre Déry (Horizon)
  • 2nd Place: ??
  • 3rd Place: ??


  • 1st Place: Adrian Scott (First Oakville)
  • 2nd Place: ??
  • 3rd Place: ??


  • 1st Place: Supritha Pai (Horizon)
  • 2nd Place: ??
  • 3rd Place: ??

2013 Area 52 Mary Heary (hosted by Horizon Toastmasters)

  • 1st Place: Deborah Bartucci “The Bear Facts” (First Oakville)
  • 2nd Place: Ralph Thrun “Visitor in the Garden” (Mansion)
  • 3rd Place: Carol Todd-Skuce “The Smiling Teller” (Horizon)


  • 1st Place: Tony Corrie (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Matt Wagner (First Oakville)


  • 1st Place: Mike Isber (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Justin Riem (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Steve Ilott (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Kevin Abraham (Mansion)


  • 1st Place: Steve Ilott (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Mike Isber (Mighty Oaks)


  • 1st Place: Johnny Walker (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Norm Graham (Trafalgar)


  • 1st Place: Ward Maltby (Sheridan Park)


  • 1st Place: Ryan Cureatz (Sheridan Park)


  • 1st Place: Mike Isber (??)


  • 1st Place: Valerie Clements (??)


  • 1st Place: Paul Pallathne (Glen Abbey)


  • 1st Place: Sharon Forsythe (Trafalgar)


  • 1st Place: Norm Graham (Trafalgar)