The Game Fair was at Ragley Hall this year. We believe this is now a permanent venue. The show ran from 21st July to 24th July. This year we arrived on the first day the campsite was open, Wednesday. Most of the site was fairly empty. Thursday was a peaceful day reading books on a hot sunny day. We luckily had decided to take the awning for shade.
Friday the show opened, and we took the tractor towed trailer up to the show to save walking. There was a short ceremony in the main arena at 10.00 am with a shotgun salute.
We spent Friday looking around the show, finding somewhere to eat. I’m sure the show was smaller than usual. Many gun shops had decided not to attend, the cost of the stand and the potential of Covid restrictions forcing social distancing made many think the risk was too high. The food area was a bit of a disappointment. In the past you could pick up a nice lunch, this year seemed few were selling meals while loads were selling gin.
We did spend quite a time looking at the dogs, and their retrieval performance. We left after lunch on Saturday. Sunday was going to be the Kingswood Gun Club 40th anniversary celebration.
Rosemary and I have been to The Game Fair many times, for a day. This year we decided to stay the whole three days, arriving in the evening before the event.
We set off just before 3pm on Thursday and arrived around one and a half hours later. I should have ignored Google and Rosemary and sauntered around the M25. Instead, we went through Hemel and then the Northern Orbital road which was totally stopped.
On arrival, we were shown our pitch, I have never been to an event where the pitches were all marked out with lines, stakes and also a label with our name on it. The pitch was large, we didn’t have our canopy so could not make full use of it, the result was people used the pitch as a shortcut when walking around. The showers and loos were all working, and I never had to queue to use them. In the future, we should take a BBQ and do a little more cooking onsite in the evening. Lots of friends had adjoining pitches, with big gazebos and feasted in style. Some feasted and drank far too late into the evening, so not a quiet site. We decided we were nearer the shoe entrance than when we’ve been in car parks on previous years.
The weather was rather wet on the first day. You can see the rain in the video blog. The subsequent days were drier.
What do you do for three days? You spend longer looking at the exhibits and spent longer over lunches. We saw several birds of prey demonstrations and particularly enjoyed watching the vultures. One exhibitor did tend to lose his birds. One time there was a large boom from a black powder gun at the other side of the Game Fair. This spooked the bird as it was coming into land, and after that, it disappeared into the nearby wood. This exhibitor must spend most of his time between shows enticing his birds down, no doubt with bribes of food.
The dogs are always fun to watch. There’s a mixture to see, owners, showing off their breeds of dogs. For instance, there was a show of many different varieties of terriers. All bred for the different environments they worked in. So what is the difference between a Norwich Terrier and a Norfolk Terrier? One has sticky up ears and the other floppy.
Then there are the working dog areas. Some competitions from having a go trail, demonstrations of tracker dogs to the International Gun Dog Retrievers. They were impressive in how they were controlled and how they covered the ground looking for their retrieve. They would dive into the water on the outbound and gently enter the water, head held high, on the return. Don’t want to get the pheasant wet!
Of course, we had to go and watch the ferret demonstration. They are so cute, but definitely rabbit killing machines. We also had a stroke of the alpacas.
I had taken my gun, so did shoot at the open clay shoot, put on by EJ Churchill. Did rather abysmally. Do not understand what has happened to my shooting of late.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities, guns and country clothing are obviously well represented. Others include all kinds of crafts, paintings, kitchen equipment, ranges, BBQs, gardening equipment, machinery, yurts and cars. There was even someone selling VW van conversions to campervans. To some extent, there is too much of this and not enough country pursuits on show these days. We succumbed to some secateurs and loppers from a French company (actually I think R would have bought anything off the chap cos she liked his cute accent).
We watched a few cooking demonstrations and were able to eat the results. So if you don’t know how to prepare a rabbit or a deer for the oven, then you could soon learn. Couldn’t see any vegetarian demonstrations on offer!! One area worth visiting is the food area where there were stalls selling all kinds of dishes. Normally we ate (and drank) there, or at the DeliVita Pizza place.
Selina & Phil joined us for what we hoped would be the driest day. In the end, it wasn’t too wet. Selina and I had a ride on the Kubota 4×4 track.
One aspect the Game Fair fails at was the use of single-use plastic for all their drinks. They could at least use paper mugs or the reusable plastic cups that most music festivals have been using for several years now. We of course had taken ours. The bars were more than willing to use them. R protested at one of the Information Points. It has got to stop.
R and I were up early to attend the second day of the Game Fair at Ragley Hall. The event celebrates the countryside, shooting, fishing and hunting. We were inside the fair before the opening time of the stalls. Traffic was not too bad. We had a long wander around all the stores. Some neat outdoor cooking systems, including a wood fire semi-portable pizza oven. The price put us off it!
Of course, we checked in at D B Guns to say hello to Dawn and Brian. I am happy to say they were very busy, so couldn’t stop and chat.
We ate lunch on the food alley which has masses of vendors selling goodies, and of course beer and cider in one of the many bars. Food most definitely has improved in recent years. A few years back we complained is was only hotdogs and burgers.
We watched the dogs agility show. It was not a competition but a showcase from the Kennel Club. Fun, loved the longhaired dogs when the jumped. There were also a myriad of retriever competitions going on as well.
We missed out on the ferrets, only seeing a pile of ferrets sleeping at the bottom of the cage. Rosemary was interested in the fly tying, I have some photographs of the flies, she was interested having read a book about a thief who stole a whole load of old and rare bird skins from the Tring Museum and sold these to collectors. Many of which ended up being turned into fishing flies.
It was a hot day, though a rain storm arrived at the end, so we left mid-afternoon as did so many others so rather tedious getting out of the place. I think next year we may go for the three days and stay in the campervan. There is plenty of other entertainment in the evenings.
24th July, Rosemary and I visited the hunting, shooting and fishing festival, the CLA Game Fair. We must say the food at these events is not a patch on Glastonbury catering. The pictures are from the dog and gun stand, a chase, where the dog runs after a lure, any one can enter. There also was a pageant of birds of prey marking the history of hunting with birds.
The Gun and Dog stand was where Chris and Ann entered their dog Boss. Alas I have no pictures of Boss, but have of one of his siblings.
We are not sure we will go again, or at least give it a miss for a few years before going back.