Since 1958, The Game Fair has been a stirring annual celebration of fieldsports and country life, and this year the event is marking its 65th anniversary
The Game Fair returns to Ragley Hall in Warwickshire at the end of this month to celebrate its 65th anniversary. Close to 150,000 visitors are expected to attend from Friday, 28 July to Sunday, 30 July and, once again, it promises to be a tremendous celebration of fieldsports and country life. The Hall, home to the 9th Marquess of Hertford, sits in 450 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland near Stratford-upon-Avon. A packed itinerary includes thrilling displays and competitions, educational demonstrations and plenty of chances for visitors to have a go for themselves. There’s something for everyone, from clay shooting and rifle enthusiasts to fishing fanatics, foodies and more.
The Field has been at the heart of every Game Fair since 1958 and this year will be no different, with our stand located at the centre of the show adjacent to the Main Enclosure (Stand number: B1251). We are looking forward to meeting our readers, new subscribers and sporting friends. Plus scroll down to see our offer worth more than £150.
THE GAME FAIR 2023 – WHAT TO SEE AND DO
A meander down Gunmakers’ Row is a must for any sportsman or woman. Leading gunmakers will display their latest products alongside old favourites, with shooting coats, gumboots, gundog accessories and everything else you can think of adorning the trodden path on each side. You can also visit the Gunmakers’ Theatre for informative presentations and talks.
THE SHOOTING LINE
The Game Fair boasts the most comprehensive outdoor exhibition for game and clay shooting held anywhere in Europe. Run again this year by EJ Churchill, the Shooting Line gives visitors the chance to take part in competitions, have a go at shooting and watch some skilled demonstrations.
There will be 30-minute one-to-one shooting lessons for those who want to tighten up their swing, and shorter 10-minute shooting experiences for newcomers. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association will be offering visitors the opportunity to try clay shooting at 10 targets with an instructor. The Game Fair asks that anyone bringing their own cartridges ensures that they are fibre wad only.
The Game Fair is working alongside the Angling Trades Association, the official voice of the UK tackle trade, to launch Get Into Fishing (GIF). Under this initiative, top angling brands will join forces with key organisations and celebrities to give people the chance to catch their first fish, find out what swims in our waters, learn to cast, and see (and buy) all the latest tackle. Set beside Ragley’s beautiful lake and covering all disciplines – game, coarse and carp, predator and sea fishing – the GIF stand will offer everything from fun children’s activities and celebrity meet-and-greets to expert demonstrations and competitions, promoting the joys of angling among attendees of all ages and abilities.
Canal & River Trust coaches and experienced instructors from the Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors will help you cast your first fly on the lake, and perhaps even catch your first fish. Visitors will be able to get up close to some of our native fish species in the Environment Agency fish tank, listen to talks in the Landing Stage theatre, watch angling demonstrations beside the lake and look over some amazing fishing boats boasting all the latest technology.
There will also be plenty of angling exhibitors and traders on site, so visitors hoping to select their next fishing holiday destination, choose a new rod or reel, or browse a selection of other tackle and bait won’t be disappointed.
Managed by CJ’s Birds of Prey, the Falconry Village is a must-see attraction for raptor enthusiasts. The Village features a wide variety of birds of prey and is an excellent opportunity to admire these majestic birds at close quarters. There will also be specialist traders, artists and UK falconry clubs on hand to give advice and share their passion for these magnificent animals. At the heart of the area is the flying ring, where CJ’s Birds of Prey will hold thrilling demonstrations showing the birds’ capabilities on the wing.
One of the biggest draws for those attending The Game Fair is the sheer amount of kit, clothing, art, antiques, shotguns, boots and garden ornaments on display. With hundreds of brands on offer, visitors will be spoilt for choice. Kay Johns will be exhibiting at the show at The Event Gallery – a good opportunity to see her work in person.
The Game Fair is one of the best places to see the latest products and take advantage of superb show offers. And let’s not forget that no shopping trip to The Game Fair is complete without a complimentary copy of The Field, which you can pick up, along with a subscription offer and free gifts worth more than £150, from our stand, located directly next to the Main Enclosure.
This year The Game Fair introduces Sussex Yeomanry to the main arena. The mounted skill-at-arms demonstration team will perform impressive displays of equestrian prowess with a historical twist. During a superb 30-minute display in the Main Arena, six riders and horses from Sussex Yeomanry will showcase the challenging manoeuvres used to develop the skills of the cavalry in times gone by. These include tent-pegging (removing a three-inch-wide peg from the ground with a lance or sword), shooting balloons with air pistols, and perfectly timed drill riding and jumping. After the display, which will take place on all three days of the Fair, the audience will be able to gather at the arena fence to meet the riders and their star horses.
The Game Fair is set to welcome three famous faces this year. Celebrity chef James Martin has created a bespoke menu for diners in the Main Enclosure. He will also be taking part in a gundog demonstration with his spaniel Cooper in the Main Arena, accompanied by leading trainer Jason Mayhew and former international cricketer Matt Prior.
Lifelong fisherman, river campaigner and comedian Paul Whitehouse is set to appear on Sunday to host lunch, meet fellow fishermen and raise awareness of Britain’s declining rivers. And lastly, actor, angler and environmentalist Jim Murray is also making an appearance on Sunday to promote Activist Anglers, a new initiative designed to empower and educate anglers on how they can make a difference and protect our waterways.
Watching a perfectly trained gundog in action is an unforgettable experience, showcasing the amazing bond between dog and handler. The Game Fair has been holding prestigious gundog competitions for 65 years, and this year it will once again play host to the Euro Challenge and Home International. Alongside displays and competitions there will be exhibitors, breeders and trainers on hand to share their wisdom on anything from feeding a new puppy to ironing out training issues. Why not spoil your canine companion with a treat or perhaps a new bed while you are there?
Charlie Jacoby, from Fieldsports Channel, will be hosting The Game Fair Theatre as a three-day chat show. There will be new guests every 20 minutes from the worlds of hunting, fishing and shooting, with conversations and debates on countryside matters and more.
If you are partial to camping and short walks back to bed, then why not use Ragley as your base camp? Caravans, motorhomes, horse boxes and tents are welcome to pitch up on the 10m x 10m allotments just a short distance from the main show. If you prefer something a little more luxurious, the ZooBells glampsite is the perfect place to spend the weekend with all facilities covered plus catering and a bar.
James Gower, The Game Fair’s managing director, says: “This year is particularly special as it marks the 65th anniversary of The Game Fair. When two visionaries – the GWCT’s Nigel Gray and the CLA’s president Sir John Ruggles-Brise – got together in 1958 to host the first-ever Game Fair, I bet they never dreamed that the event would evolve into the national treasure that it is. Nowadays, the event is a British institution and something families travel from all four corners of Britain to attend.
“The Game Fair has a clear identity and mission. It is a showcase of fieldsports and country life, designed to educate those who are curious in an open and accessible way. It also provides an opportunity for networking and socialising for those who have already made this lifestyle theirs. Rural pursuits were once considered elitist and controversial, but The Game Fair has helped make them more accessible. Nothing quite compares to this event.”
A SPECIAL EVENT
Lord Hertford, the 9th Marquess of Hertford, is overjoyed by the return of the show to Ragley Hall. “The Game Fair is always an eagerly anticipated part of the calendar at Ragley,” he said. “For me it is a chance to meet friends, old and new, and explore the best the countryside has to offer. I’m always excited to learn about new innovations, especially relating to the environment, while also joining people in celebrating the traditions of country life. I am looking forward to opening our gates for this year’s 65th Game Fair and hosting this special event in the countryside calendar once again.”
A Field exclusive at The Game Fair
Pick up a subscription to The Field and enjoy our special offer worth more than £150
The Field has been attending The Game Fair since its inception in 1958 and we look forward to welcoming you to our stand, located next to the Main Enclosure. Meet the team, pick up a complimentary copy of the August issue and take advantage of our extraordinary show subscription offer. Subscribe from £25 and receive a 28% discount, a bottle of champagne or a pair of shooting stockings, and a Bronze VIP member’s badge (worth £99), allowing access to the Main Enclosure with its exclusive lounge, garden, cash bar and loos without the queue.
Field readers can also take advantage of an exclusive advance ticket offer – £29 per ticket, including exclusive premium forward parking. Simply use the code FIELD65 at the checkout on The Game Fair website (thegamefair.org)