After last year’s cancellation, The Game Fair will be bigger and better than ever this summer, the wide array of family-friendly features and attractions ensuring that there is something for everyone. Returning to familiar territory, Europe’s largest outdoor countryside festival will be held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire. Around 120,000 visitors are expected to be there across three days from Friday 23 July to Sunday 25 July.
The Shooting Line
The Game Fair boasts the most comprehensive outdoor shooting exhibition held anywhere in the UK. You might be an expert shot or a complete novice, The Shooting Line welcomes people of all abilities. Run by shooting ground and sporting agency, E.J. Churchill, visitors have the opportunity to take part in a mid-summer shoot out with competitions, have-a-go stands and demonstrations. As always, BASC will be on hand providing one-to-one lessons for 30 minutes and a shorter ‘Shooting Experience’ for newcomers that lasts 10 minutes. There will also be the opportunity for visitors to test lead-free sustainable shotgun cartridges from brands like Eley, BioAmmo and Joker. The CPSA will be offering visitors have-a-go clay shooting at 10 targets with an instructor. Designed for all abilities, there is no minimum age but you do need to be at least one metre tall.
The Fishing village
Whether you’re a seasoned angler or someone who has only recently taken up the sport, there’s plenty for you to enjoy in the new look Fishing Village. You will be able to pick up expert tips on the specially made Casting Pool, with demonstrations from the likes of Charles Jardine, Hywel Morgan and his teenage daughter Tanya and Italian casting instructor Paolo Ercoli who will be jetting in specially. A dedicated fishing theatre – dubbed the Landing Stage – will play host to talks from the likes of Marina Gibson, author Henry Giles and David Lyons from fishing and mental health charity Tackling Minds, plus many more. The Veniard fly tying team will be giving demonstrations throughout the weekend of their art and there will be a string of exhibitors, showcasing everything from the latest tackle to top fishing destinations around the world.
There are so many fun engaging activities visitors can get involved with. That could be taking aim in one of the clay shooting competitions or picking up a longbow to try some archery. Or perhaps you’d like to cast a line on Ragley’s stunning lake while receiving top tips from the experts or slow down to do some letter carving in the traditional crafts area. The falconry area gives visitors the chance to handle some spectacular birds of prey including hawks and buzzards. Head to the gundog area and get the family pet involved too by entering your pooch into one of three fun have-a-go competitions, the Scramble, Open Scurry and Junior Scurry, as well as BASC’s own Scurry competitions with daily prizes awarded.
The Falconry Village
Sponsored by Qatar’s Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition (S’hail), the largest falconry show in the Middle East, the Falconry Village at The Game Fair
features a huge selection of birds of prey. Run by CJ’s Birds of Prey, the flying ring will feature exciting demonstrations pus there will be specialist traders, artists and UK falconry clubs on hand to give advice, this is an area not to be missed for falconry experts or families keen to find out more.
VIP packages with chef James Martin
Renowned chef, author and television presenter James Martin returns to The Game Fair’s onsite restaurant ‘The Enclosure’ for a third consecutive year, to create a game-based menu inspired by the best of British ingredients. By upgrading to one of three VIP packages available in silver, gold or platinum, you’ll have exclusive access to The Enclosure and the Garden, with a chance to chat to James and possibly even take a selfie. Packages also include priority parking, access to The Orion FX Lounge and entry to The Game Fair. To make your experience even easier there’s also a shop & drop service across all packages so you can collect your Game Fair goodies when you’re ready. For the ultimate luxury experience and to enjoy yet more sumptuous food, the Platinum package includes a Champagne breakfast and a three-course lunch. Packages start from £99 per person.
Open air cinema
Settle down to some big screen entertainment and enjoy a very special screening of John Macnab at The Game Fair’s own open-air cinema. In partnership with The British Film Institute, this little-known BBC film from 1976 is a three-part dramatisation based on John Buchan’s celebrated novel which follows three high-flying men who set themselves a shooting and fishing challenge to end their boredom. Taking place in The Clarence Court Main Arena on Saturday night from 6pm, expect relaxed seating, whisky and wine with a wonderful introduction from Buchan’s granddaughter Ursula who will tell the audience more about her grandfather’s extraordinary life – leading to her own novel Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps. Seats are very limited. Tickets are £20 – available in advance only. Visitors must also be holders of entrance tickets to The Game Fair.
Meet dedicated artisans specialising in crafts dating back centuries. Learn about beekeeping and taxidermy, furniture and glass making or willow weaving. This year’s exhibitors include Animal Artistry, showcasing beautiful model horse and dog sculptures, Parkland Honey, traditional net maker Mick Dadd and furniture maker Peter Tree plus many more.
The Clarence Court Main Arena
A jam-packed itinerary includes an amazing variety of exciting competitions, educational demonstrations, thrills and occasional spills to keep visitors entertained all day every day. Watch Shetland Pony Grand National, hound parades, scurry driving, mounted Pony Club games and gundog demonstrations.
The Carter Jonas Game Fair Theatre
The effervescent host of Fieldsports Channel, Charlie Jacoby, will compère three days of lively discussions and TV-style chat shows, which will include some meaty political debate at the theatre, supported by Carter Jonas. There will also be a smattering of talks and book signings.
The Field Kitchen Theatre
Watch some of Britain’s top game chefs, such as José Souto and Rachel Green plus Juanita Hennessy from MasterChef give cookery demos throughout the weekend. The indoor theatre is a celebration of food, where visitors of all ages will be able to watch and learn how to prepare tasty game dishes. It’s also a chance to find out about food provenance, sustainability and best practice from chefs and those who shoot, fish, hunt and forage.
Totally Game Area
Yet another new and exciting addition for 2021, The Totally Game Area focuses on educating people about eating and cooking with game. Visitors can buy tokens (£3 each) and redeem them for a huge variety of tasters (one token per taster). Hosted by the British Game Alliance, 16 small producers including Exmoor Game, Taste of Game, and Wild & Game will be there offering everything from venison burgers and pheasant or rabbit goujons to pigeon kebabs and partridge tacos. Aimed at taking the mystery out of game, visitors can learn how to kill, skin, prepare and cook it.
Camping & glamping
With holidays to far flung places uncertain, there’s never been a better time (or excuse) to enjoy a staycation. Turn your visit to The Game Fair into a full-blown mini break by camping or glamping for the weekend or perhaps a little longer. Visitors are welcome to bring their own tent or bring along a caravan, motorhome or horsebox on one of the new 10×10 pitches. Canvas bell tents are available either unfurnished, basically furnished or outright luxurious. For an enhanced camping experience, consider the baby tipi package that includes a proper double bed and carpet. Open for five nights, the campsite has all the necessary facilities including toilets, showers, an on-site shop as well as catering concessions and a bar. Very limited availability left so book soon!
Attracting more four-legged friends than Crufts, The Game Fair is the biggest event in the calendar for gundog lovers, who can have-a-go with their own four-legged friend in the scurry, pick-up and scramble events. Over the course of the weekend there’s a jam-packed programme of events from the long-established Home International Competition to the HPR Home International and the Gundog Working Test Challenge, both new for 2021. The latter is aimed at amateurs and will award £2,000 to the two overall winners.
Game Fair Gardens
This year’s 30×17 metre show garden will showcase how ‘smart’ a garden can be using modern technology. The garden is being created by around 50 students from two local land-based colleges – Moreton Morrell and Pershore – under the watchful eye of horticultural and landscape lecturer Mike Roberts. The quandrant design is divided into a ‘Water-Wise’ area which will demonstrate new ways rainfall can be harvested, drought tolerant planting and sustainable drainage.
For three days every year, The Game Fair becomes one of the biggest retail areas in the UK with nearly 1,000 stands – with 230 new brands exhibiting for the first time. All the big country brands will be in residence, with exciting new product launches and
unbeatable show-only deals. As ever, a number of small independent retailers will be offering their unique, artisan products too. Remember your shopping bags!
Need to know
Where: Ragley Hall, Warwickshire
When: Friday 23 July to Sunday 25 July (8am to 6pm; to 7:30pm on the Friday. Stands and attractions open from 9am)
Adult: £29 in advance for one day (gate price £35) or £58 for three days (three days for the price of two).
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): £69 in advance (gate price £80) for one day or £140 for three days.
Children (8-16): £10 in advance for one day and £30 for three days.