IT IS billed as Britain’s biggest celebration of countryside field sports and the CLA Game Fair has returned to Yorkshire this weekend.
Having opened yesterday, the rural showcase continues today and tomorrow, and over the three days is expected to attract around 150,000 visitors from all over the country.
Today is Ladies Day when high society magazine La Di Da will be sending scouts around the show throughout the morning to select and invite ladies dressed with flair and style to enter the Best Dressed Lady competition, with prizes up for grabs for the winners.
In keeping with the theme, the final of the Lady Shot of the Year contest takes place today. Organised and run by the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, which was set up three years ago to encourage more women to take up shooting, the final is the culmination of qualifying heats which took place ahead of the Game Fair and featured participants from across the country.
Those who have taken part so far have helped raise money for Victoria’s Promise, a charity set up in memory of Victoria Van Der Westhuizen who died of cancer last year. The good cause provides support to women between the ages of 18-40 who have been diagnosed with the disease.
Elsewhere at the Fair today, two professional chefs will do battle for the title of CLA Game Chef of the Year and speciality game chef Jose Souto will be giving demonstrations.
There will also be farriers at work, falconry displays, working trials and gundog demonstrations, carriage driving horses, Pony Club mounted games, kayaking and a fly fishing masterclass.
Speaking ahead of the Game Fair, its director Tony Wall said he wanted visitors to have fun and to take away an important message.
“Not only is it about having fun but there’s a serious message that we all need to look after the countryside and protect it and make it work for future generations.”
Sales of advanced tickets had been strong, he said.
“We are a little surprised with the level of advanced tickets sold. The majority of those will have been bought by our Southern visitors and I expect the more local element will make a decision on coming along on the weather on the day, but there has been great enthusiasm in the area for the event.”
The Game Fair is expected to deliver a valuable shot in the arm to the local economy.
Mr Wall said: “We have an economic impact study done and we typically see a £15m-20m uplift to the local economy. We bring some inconvenience with us because of the number of people visiting the show but I hope what we give back is several times more than what we take out.”
His advice to people travelling to the event was to follow the roadside signs rather than relying on Satellite Navigation systems to avoid bottlenecks at the main entrance to Harewood House.
Multiple entrances to access parking areas in the grounds are open.
“The conversations we have had on site with exhibitors tell us that everyone is geared up for a bumper show and that’s what we have been building up for and what we’re expecting,” Mr Wall added.
For more details and tickets, see www.gamefair.co.uk