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The Game Fair at Hatfield House

PUBLISHED: 10:23 04 April 2017

Competitors and their dogs take part in last year's Euro Challenge dog competition

Competitors and their dogs take part in last year's Euro Challenge dog competition

game fair

Europe’s biggest festival of rural life will be at Hatfield House this summer. Supported by Hertfordshire Life, The Game Fair is sports, shopping, food and drink arena displays, traditions and a touch of glamour

Gunmakers Row (photo: Andrew Crowley)Gunmakers Row (photo: Andrew Crowley)

A major event in the national countryside calendar is coming to Hertfordshire for the first time this summer. Now in its 59th year, The Game Fair will take place in the park grounds of Hatfield House on July 28-30.

A highlight of the British social scene, the fair is the largest celebration of rural life in Europe, including food and drink, crafts, shopping, and a wide range of field sports from horses and hounds to falconry and fishing. Last year’s event attracted more than 100,000 people, while around 1,000 businesses attended.

Historically, the fair has rotated venues. Now under new management it will alternate between the Hatfield stately home and Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.

Owner of Hatfield House, Lord Salisbury, said the event fits with the estate’s aim of encouraging a greater understanding of country life. He added, ‘Everyone at Hatfield is delighted that The Game Fair will take place in the park. This is a special event which will celebrate the best of British rural life and support the thousands of businesses which exhibit.’

Archery, just one of the many field sports to have a go atArchery, just one of the many field sports to have a go at

After a national search, the site is ‘the best possible location for the event’, said James Gower, managing director of the fair. ‘Having grown up in Hertfordshire, and living within walking distance of the estate, I can honestly say that I can’t think of a better southerly location.’

Country pursuits

The fair has a comprehensive array of fieldsports including archery, air gunning, falconry, fishing, ferrets, gun dogs, horses and hounds and the longest clay shooting line in the world.

Gundog Row is the hub for visitors with an interest in dogs, whether working animals or family pets. A wide range of information and products will be on offer such as dog food, kennels, welfare organisations, gun dog training equipment and dog accessories as well as competition pens and demo arenas.

MasterChef's Greg Wallace will be greeting guests at the Shot to Pot restaurant (photo: Philip Hollis)MasterChef's Greg Wallace will be greeting guests at the Shot to Pot restaurant (photo: Philip Hollis)

The organisers said the competitions and demonstrations here are extremely popular with daily attractions featuring international teams.

Gunmakers’ Row is the place to ‘view the best and newest products from British gunmakers as well as renowned names from around the world’. Premier shooting-related companies will have their stands here.

The fair’s Clay Shooting Line has become a staple of the show. It allows visitors the opportunity to have a shoot-out with competitors, try the sport in have-a-go booths and watch demonstrations. Shooters of all disciplines and abilities from novice to seasoned pro are welcome.

Showjumping is a key eventShowjumping is a key event

Food & drink

Gregg Wallace will be fronting the fair’s all-day Shot to Pot restaurant which will serve a menu designed by the MasterChef presenter with a focus on provenance and a field to fork ethos. Wallace will be at the fair on Friday and Saturday, meeting and greeting guests.

Alongside a wide variety of food and drink stalls, the Enclosure is the place to eat, drink and unwind in luxury, the organisers said.

A country gent eyes up the tweed at last year's event at Ragley Hall, WarwickshireA country gent eyes up the tweed at last year's event at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire

Crafts & wildlife

This area celebrates those working in the British countryside, from craftsmen and women keeping traditions alive to volunteer groups and associations that work to conserve our wildlife and heritage. Visitors can watch demonstrations and try their hand at activities.

Land & gardens

This area will incorporate sections including Gamekeeper’s Row, Woodland and Forestry, Estate Management, and Elegant Gardens.

Arenas

Grandstands will be erected for visitors to watch the major programme of main arena events. Thrillseekers, don’t miss the 4x4 course!

Adam Henson, farmer and presenter on BBC Countryfile said, ‘I have been attending The Game Fair for many years, but I am especially excited about this year. With the new changes and refresh to the festival, I am sure this will be one of the best years yet. While it’s called The Game Fair, it really is much more than that – there’s lots to see, try and do.’

Advance adult tickets are £22.50, eight-16 years £8 and under-eights go free. Visit thegamefair.org

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