The CLA Game Fair – a resounding success
From the ace team of Fiona Eastman & Marishelle Gibson
The world’s largest game fair, The CLA Game Fair, returned to Belvoir with a bang this weekend, defying the weathermen’s predictions and attracting 136,000 people to compete at, join in – or just look at – the greatest celebration of the countryside.
Many exhibitors reported bumper sales – particularly on Saturday, the hottest day of the weekend, when even wellie boots were selling almost as fast as ice creams.
Local Committee Chairman, Richard Ferens, paid tribute to the: “immense good will” of local people in helping ensure the success of the event. Game Fair organisers put a sophisticated traffic management system in place especially for the event but, said Mr Ferens, the whole system depended just as much on local co-operation and support to work effectively.
The three day show is estimated to put £11 million into the economy of the area and Mr Ferens said it was immensely important to the success of a huge number of businesses and individuals within the area.
“In my view this site at Belvoir Castle is one of the best in the country. It is easily accessible, the traffic system works well and it offers a compact, easy-to-get-around site set against the stunning backdrop of Belvoir Castle,” he said.
Spirits were high right across the 500 acre site with the crowds enjoying every aspect of the rural tapestry on show. The serious side of rural affairs was brought into focus on the first morning in The Game Fair Theatre when the CLA unveiled its own “Manifesto for the Countryside” to a panel of politicians and crowds of visitors. The Theatre also hosted a no-punches debate on whether being British was still great and tackled debates on climate change, the future of woodlands and the proposals to release extinct species back into the wild. Strutt and Parker, sponsors of the Theatre, said they were delighted with the audience’s reaction and enjoyment at the best attended programme of Game Fair debates ever.
Vincent Hedley Lewis, Chairman of The Game Fair Board, said: “This is a huge event bringing tens of thousands of extra people into the area every day and generating a multi million pound boost for the local economy. It is the one event in the year which brings together all the leading countryside organisations enabling The CLA Game Fair to present the most comprehensive showcase for the countryside.”
On the trade stands, regular Game Fair visitors, Woolsthorpe Wellies reported sales that were “off the scale” while top gunsmiths Holland and Holland said their stand had been absolutely packed. At the Bettws Hall stand Tim Griffith said Saturday had been the busiest day they had ever had at any Game Fair.
“Everything has been fantastic – a truly great Game Fair. Everybody coming onto our stand has been complementary about the show, the traffic flow and on-site arrangements,” he said.
As well as providing a brilliant day out, The Game Fair also provided a massive funding boost for its two named charities, Help For Heroes, the tri-service charity founded by cartoonist Bryn Parry and his wife, Emma, and the CLA’s own Charitable Trust, which supports a variety of initiatives aimed at bringing young disadvantaged or disabled people into the countryside.
“We have had cadets out collecting and at one point we had buckets so full of coins it actually broke the bucket. It has been a wonderful show for us and for the Help for Heroes fund – this Game Fair has coined a new catch phrase for the charity, You Are Allowed to be Proud,” said Bryn.
Mr Hedley Lewis said: “It has been a brilliant event, there has been a real buzz all three days and we are absolutely delighted with the support we have received. Now we are looking forward to the 2010 Game Fair at an exciting and brand new venue, Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.”
CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: “The CLA Game Fair continues to go from strength to strength and has been a resounding success this weekend at Belvoir Castle. I am absolutely delighted that Ragley Hall has been chosen for the 2010 CLA Game Fair. It is a wonderful site and I am sure will continue our long tradition of staging a superb and enjoyable event.”