A bespoke event for lovers of fieldsports, the Field & Country Fair has been launched to get your summer season off to the perfect start, says Alexandra Henton
The inaugural Field & Country Fair this month has much to recommend it. After the CLA Game Fair blew the Last Post at Harewood House in 2015 there was an opportunity for those who were interested to shape their own country fair. The CLA, which was the backbone of the CLA Game Fair for more than 50 years, has no presence at any game fair this summer. Out of this situation grew the Field & Country Fair, organised by Time Inc. (UK) Ltd, publisher of The Field, Country Life, Shooting Times, Sporting Gun and Shooting Gazette. It is an opportunity to use the expertise of the magazines you love to read to create a bespoke country event to kick off your summer season.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE FIELD & COUNTRY FAIR
Held at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, on 10-12 June 2016, the Field & Country Fair is a country show at which you can learn, laugh, shop and eat well. Bring your dog, bring the smalls and bring your friends for a fieldsports festival without the flounce. Here is what you will find at the Field & Country Fair this June.
What’s your game? Partridge or pigeon, goose or grouse? Whatever quarry comes top of your list, head to Gunmakers’ Quarter to meet the experts. You’ll find stands dedicated to game-shooting, pigeon-shooting and wildfowling, manned by a range of experts from the industry who’ll be ready to answer queries and offer insights into every aspect of game-shooting, from bird rearing to beating, how to get started or which gun to buy.
Artist Owen Williams will be on the woodcock research stand, answering questions on woodcock migration with the GWCT as well as showing some of his exquisite pictures. For those who want to browse or perhaps buy a shotgun, there will be a handpicked selection of the best the gunmaking world has to offer, including models from: GMK, the famous importers of Beretta shotguns and Sako and Tikka rifles; Francis Lovel & Co; Elderkin & Son; Boxall & Edmiston; Ladd’s; Longthorne Gunmakers; and William & Son.
ESTATE MANAGEMENT & GAMEKEEPERS’ ROW
An area dedicated to gamekeepers, where they will be able to study best practice, peruse practical ideas and get first-hand advice. A deer-management stand is the go-to destination for anyone struggling with a cervine surplus, while membership organisations BASC, the GWCT and the Countryside Alliance will also be supporting the Field & Country Fair. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) has chosen the Field & Country Fair as the only show it will attend this summer. This is a rare opportunity to meet many of the UK’s top keepers. In addition, Shooting Times’ gamekeeping correspondent and NGO committee member Liam Bell will oversee a separate gamekeeping exhibition stand that will take visitors through all aspects of keepering, from small DIY syndicates to grouse-moor management. Featured will be experts in the fields of predator control, shoot conservation and bird rearing.
Bring your gun and visit Barbury Shooting School’s stands for daily fun “flush” clay competitions. Oxfordshire Shooting School will be hosting a “Have a Go” stand, with fully qualified APSI instructors offering an introduction to shooting with a shotgun. For the keen grouse shot, why not take on the 25-bird sequence from a grouse butt with Atkin Grant & Lang? The company will also run a high gun competition daily and there’ll be prizes for lady guns, juniors and others. BASC will be on hand to offer tuition and advice on gun safety, and there will be an EJ Churchill clinic. An airgun range will also be operating over the weekend, with the Air Arms Speed Shot competition and 10 free shots for under 12s, so take along your aspiring smalls.
MEET THE EXPERTS
The meet the experts sessions at the Field & Country Fair offer something unique: real experts, real opinions and unrivalled knowledge. George Digweed, 26-time World Champion, will be on The Field’s stand on Friday 10 June offering advice and answering questions about how to improve your game- and pigeon-shooting. It is not everyday the best in the world is on hand to help. Gunmakers’ Quarter will also host three of the UK’s top pigeon shooters: Shooting Gazette’s Will Garfit; Sporting Gun’s Peter Theobald; and Shooting Times’ Tom Payne. All three will be on hand to answer queries, share tips and give demonstrations of decoying equipment.
BRING THE DOG
There’s plenty of fun at the Fair for your four-legged friends, too. The gundog demonstration arena and training clinic, overseen by renowned gundog trainer Howard Kirby, gives owners the opportunity for one-to-one or group training, or the opportunity to have your dog assessed. The working dog ring will feature parades of working dogs with expert commentary by Neil Varney, owner of training club Twistmount Gundogs and a Shooting Times contributor, and Jim Winters. Varney and his team at Twistmount will also be in the ring twice daily with their spaniels and labrador retrievers to show how it should be done. Meanwhile, Nick Gregory from Misselchalke Gundogs will be doing a demonstration each day with cocker spaniels – and don’t forget to study the card before the terrier racing gets underway. There will also be a sporting dog pavilion, lurcher arena, BASC scurries, a gundog eye clinic and canine first aid.
PUGS AND DRUMMERS
Visit Simon Whitehead of Pakefield Ferrets, a Shooting Times contributor, and his team of rabbiting aficionados, who will be demonstrating the skills involved in ferreting. They will also be showing equipment and offering advice.
Don’t miss the Falconry Mews where there’ll be a wide variety of bird of prey species, including kestrels, barn owls, peregrines, hawk eagles and golden eagles. Visit the arenas for hunting with falcons, training dogs for falconry, ferreting and children’s sessions among other topics. The Children’s Area will be an interactive experience for the smalls; visit one of the displays to see the birds in action or visit the falconry clubs for advice on taking up the sport.
THE REAL FOOD FAIR
The Real Food Fair will make sure visitors to the Field & Country Fair can take home the best British, artisan, well-sourced food.
FIELD & COUNTRY RESTAURANT
No need to queue at a dodgy burger van – the Field & Country Restaurant will be offering an amazing choice of dishes for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Eat Wild’s tantalising menu includes crayfish, rabbit, free-range chicken jambalaya, smoked mushrooms and kale slaw. Then there are two fabulous food courts, both with outside seating, offering hog roasts and the best fresh farmed produce, which you can wash down with something from the Oxfordshire Real Ale Bar or the Lodge, which will be offering champagne, wine and cocktails. Where better to meet up with friends?
GAME COOKERY THEATRE
Come and see some of the best country cooks demonstrate what they do so well. Rachel Green will be conjuring up ideas for the best shoot lunches, the Eat Wild brothers – Calum and Will Thompson – will be hosting daily demonstrations, including how to make game accessible. Game guru Tim Maddams will be on hand to advise you how to cook your game with gusto, and Jose Souto will be cooking off against the clock daily, preparing dishes for audience members to sample.
No country fair is complete without a selection of shops, selling things we really want to buy. So if you want some serious sporting wear visit William & Son for elegant shooting outfits (see New in the Field for latest product details) and luxurious cashmere. William Powell and the Beretta Gallery are also a must for the sporting shopper, and Sunglasses for Sport are a go-to destination for grouse glasses. For jolly illustrations from a Field favourite visit Oliver Preston’s stand. For the fashion savvy, South West Ten’s fur-trimmed gilets and Its Got Soul’s delightfully coloured loafers are must haves.
Learn how to cast, pick a rod and find the right flies for the job, perhaps even pick up one of the expert’s recommendations. Orvis will be on hand with expert advice for the novice or dedicated flyfisher, overseen by the renowned Michael Evans with Hywel Morgan assisting in the casting demonstrations.
Country Life’s artist feature area will see inspired sporting artists displaying their work, including Daniel Crane, Hamish Mackie, Belinda Sillars, Tania Still, Rodger McPhail, Keith Sykes, Dominique Salm, Bill Prickett and Debbie Harris. Talk to the artists, see their latest works or just enjoy the display.
For the smalls, Country Corner offers a plethora of opportunities to learn fieldcraft, make friends and be enthused. Teaching Trees helps them to identify and name the different species of trees they see in a specially created game. Young green fingers will enjoy planting activities and crafters can make a paper plant pot to contain a young plant that they can continue growing at home. Crafters of all ages can learn to make a corn dolly and about the history of the craft, while another craft on offer is felt making – using British wool. Participants will learn how to make felt and then create flowers from it – which they can take home afterwards. Children often enjoy a competition and young artists will be encouraged to enter a drawing competition to paint a picture of the countryside – with a prize awarded to the winner at the end of the Field & Country Fair. Finally, tired children can curl up in the story-telling area and listen to a well-loved tale.
AND MUCH MORE…
Holt’s Auctioneers will be holding two sessions a day, so do bring your shooting memorabilia along with you for valuation. Taxidermist Will Matthews will be showing how to tackle a deer head and more; come and see how you could get stuffing with an expert. And, of course, The Field, Country Life, Shooting Times, Sporting Gun and Shooting Gazette will be at the Field & Country Fair, looking forward to talking to our readers, greeting new enthusiasts and sharing the fun and “hands-on” approach we hope you will enjoy. We look forward to seeing you there.