12 July 2002

EVENTAMUSTFORENTHUSIASTS

That three day celebration

of country pursuits and

rural interests – The CLA

Game Fair – is to be held

at Broadlands, Romsey,

Hants, this year.

Tessa Gates takes a look

at what visitors can expect

IF YOUR interests lie in the countryside then The CLA Game Fair is a must-see event. Broadlands, which is on the bank of the River Test, provides a perfect setting for the Game Fair at the end of this month. The last time the event was held here – 1984 – it attracted one of the largest attendances in the fairs history.

To make the most of a family visit a bit of logistical planning may be needed as there is so much to see and do. Fishermen may want to head for Alive & Fishing – the coarse fishing show where they can seek some expert advice and see top anglers, such as John Wilson of Go Fishing fame, three times world champion Alan Scotthorne MBE, angler and writer John Bailey and many others demonstrate their skills.

If game fishing is your style there is a strong demonstration team showing improved casting techniques in the Fishermans Village overlooking the Test, and all fishermen will be tempted to walk Fishermans Row to see what new bit of kit they need to bring in that specimen catch.

&#42 Good excuse

Gunmakers Row has much the same effect on shooters, so anyone whose eye and luck has not been in on the many clay competitions open for entry at the fair, will have a good excuse to look at perhaps upgrading their weapons.

The Windsor gamekeepers gun safety demonstration is an informative and enjoyable lesson on the correct way to handle a gun in the shooting field and shows what can happen if one is used incorrectly. This will be in the Working Dog Ring where a superb programme of displays will keep dog lovers happy throughout each day.

If your dogs are keen workers – there are plenty of open have-a-go events where you can put them through their paces. And there are some great international team challenges to watch, where top dogs and handlers compete for honours.

&#42 Horses too

Horse-lovers are far from forgotten. Head for the main arena to see dressage to music, carriage driving, the Morgan horse team, American quarter horses, Radford heavy horses, and Mini Marvels – a Miniature horse display. A demonstration of side saddle riding will include eight junior riders performing a quadrille, an adult pas de deux and a Chase me Charlie for the kids. This involves the height of the jumps being raised each time round and ponies that fail to make the jump will retire.

There is lots for children to enjoy and take part in and plenty to keep shopperholics happy too. With over 700 exhibitors to choose from, shoppers can find everything from a dog collar to country clothing, jewellery to fine art, and even a big game safari or a new vehicle for the estate.

If you feel passionately about shooting then head for the Game Fair Theatre on Friday at 10.30am for the seminar Shooting Sports: What Future. Speakers from DEFRA, the CLA, BASC and the Game Conservancy Trust will take a comprehensive look at the challenges the sport faces and at its contribution to the rural economy and land – which could lead to some lively questions from the audience.

On Saturday at 11.30am the subject is Shooting Sports and Countryside Stewardship: A Win-Win Scenario chaired by FW editor Stephen Howe. Shooting and farming depend on each other but farming is changing, profits are down and CAP is up for reform. Experts from Strutt and Parker, The Game Conservancy Trust and the CLA look at what this means for shooting.

&#42 Other matters

Other subjects on seminar programmes over three days include Which Way for Farming? The Future of Angling? Rural Tourism; and Threats & Opportunities for the Landowner and Farmer.

The fair, which runs from Fri, Jul 26 to Sun, Jul 28, draws so many aspects of rural life together that whether you work, rest or play in the countryside, you will find plenty to interest you. For more details or to book advance tickets see www.gamefair.co.uk. or call 01634-226211.