Musings over the CLA Game Fair and other country shows…

It’s been nearly a month now since the CLA Game Fair went to Harewood House and it’s fast approaching the end of the season of other game fairs, country shows and horse trials… (don’t worry, this only means the shooting and hunting season is nearly here). The CLA Fair, however, is still everywhere. Perhaps you’ve been reading write ups in magazines, or seen snippets on TV, or maybe you’re social media is still rife with people reminiscing and posting pictures and reliving their favourite moments…

I couldn’t go this year because I had to go to  a wedding (not that I’m complaining about spending the happy occasion deep in the Devon Moors, which, FYI, make an amazing wedding location) but friends and family had no hesitation in telling me that this was possibly one of the best yet (thanks guys…). The weather wasn’t amazing but the crowds of like minded people were apparently in great spirits, and lets be honest, if there’s one group of people who should be OK with a bit of mud it’s this lot. Trade was great and the entertainment was exactly on point it seems.

A great weekend and a lot of fun, I was genuinely gutted I had to miss it (my bank balance probably doesn’t agree) but I really feel that these events are so important to us, to our livelihoods, our traditions and our conservation.

It was at the Malvern Three Counties Show this year that a friend of mine decided it was time for her to pursue developing her own small holding, for herself but also for her little girl who has an extremely rare condition that prevents her living her life as a normal four year old would. We spoke to so many inspirational people, and with a little gentle encouragement from my farm appreciating self, she already had an idea in her head for a long term goal by the time we got home. This was June and now she has already has an online course ready to help as a stepping stone increase her knowledge and skills (she does have some experience in this industry I would like to point out, and all the support needed) and in September she is going to start her journey by getting around 10 chickens, involving herself in every aspect of setting it all up. But no cockerels – there’s enough of those in the nearby area as it is!

Seeing the beautiful and varied breeds of pig, sheep, cows and poultry (I tried to go into detail but I just couldn’t decide which were my favourites and so the list just got too long) it’s hard not to truly appreciate the livestock industry, and want to be a part of it.

Then there’s the other entertainment on offer at these events, which are more than just a nice display for a lot of people. Gun dog trials, for example, are giving many a chance to showcase their hard work with their gun dogs where you can just see the pride and joy and loyalty. Watching what they can do is amazing and can really put the working dogs I deal with to shame! Being able to watch such an important part of a keeper’s livelihood and of a hunt and shoot’s success helps show just how much goes into that tradition behind the scenes.

Trade is, of course, a big appeal too. Take your bank cards people because the varied products on offer is phenomenal. It’s great to be introduced to companies you may never have come across otherwise, or just visit brands you already love. Food, clothing, home furnishings, accessories, tools for your trade, vehicles… it’s such a good way for these traders to showcase what they have and reach out to the right kind of audience and gather a loyal customer base.

Game fairs particularly I find incredible, if you go to Gunmaker’s Row you cannot help but be mesmerised by the real art of the guns on display and for sale. If they don’t make you want to give shooting a go then I don’t know what will.

And of course let’s not forget the food… I highly recommend just tucking in and trying something new if you’re not an adventurous eater normally, I used to be fussy about food until I learnt to just try everything I could. It’s such a good way to try game meat, for example, because there’s no pressure on you to catch it or cook it yourself and it can really get you motivated to appreciate the food we have on offer on our doorsteps from pheasant to venison, and hopefully make you want to get involved and try it for yourself at home.

Don’t forget to support the local produce stalls too; cheese, breads, fruit, cakes… so much better than just getting the bits from a big supermarket or chain store and the traders are always so friendly and happy to answer any questions about their products.

Basically I love them, game fairs and country shows. Such a great day (or even weekend) out and so, so important to our countryside values and spreading awareness and knowledge.

Farming UK (farminguk.com) is a great website I always check for date by date guides to what’s going on. There’s still a pretty good variety of different events still to come, here’s a pick of ones I’ve been to before that have been well worth a visit:

Burghley Horse Trials (3rd-6th Sept), Chatsworth Country Fair (4th-6th Sept), Midland Game Fair (19th-20th Sept), Malvern Autumn Show (26th-27th Sept)

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