TWEED was donned and dogs were in their element at the Game Fair at Ragley Hall near Alcester last weekend.
Billed as “Glastonbury for the green welly brigade”, this year’s Game Fair – from Friday (July 29) to Sunday (July 31) – failed to disappoint, with crowds piling in to experience the mammoth countryside celebration, complete with clay pigeon shooting, stalls, falconry demonstrations, top game-themed cuisine and even the odd celebrity face to spot.
First held in 1958, the annual event is not tied to just one location – it has been hosted at 28 different country estates over the years in all four corners of Britain, from Hampshire to County Durham and Powys to Dumfriesshire.
No other game fair has been running as long as the Game Fair and none are as large. It spans 450 acres and regularly attracts 120,000 visitors as well as 1,000 exhibitors. People travel the length and breadth of Britain to go there.
And the format has not changed or evolved too much in 64 years. When the Queen visited in 1974 with her young family, they were photographed taking part in activities that are still at the core of the event today. The backbone of the jam-packed itinerary is made up of gundog displays, falconry demonstrations, fly tying and casting competitions and clay shooting challenges.
The much-loved event is a one-stop-shop for fieldsports, both for seasoned pros wanting to chew the cud with colleagues and rookies looking to have a go for the first time.
And more and more well-known celebrities are publicly putting their names to the event. TV chef James Martin was once again the face of the on-site restaurant, boyband-star-turned-farmer JB Gill hosted venison cooking demos, former footballer Vinnie Jones took part in the opening ceremony’s 64-gun salute and there was even a cameo appearance from Princess Anne.