6 unmissable attractions at this year’s Game Fair

Hatfield House in Hertfordshire is the location for this year’s Game Fair, expected to attract about 120,000 visitors.

Billed as “Europe’s largest outdoor countryside festival”, the three-day event opens its doors on 26 July and is popular with many farming families, as well as the “huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’” community.

We have picked six of the new and nifty or established and essential features we’ll be sure to check out.

1. Blooming marvellous

The pioneering show garden – covering more than an acre, making it six times bigger than the largest one ever created at the Chelsea Flower Show – will tell the story of the countryside, estates, country gardens, traditional practices and innovations.

Visitors can expect kitchen gardens, traditional crafts, superb design, art, sculpture, and more in this “immersive and interactive experience”, designed by RHS gold medallists from Capel Manor College.

See also: Minister thanks British farmers on Open Farm Sunday visit

2. ‘Gin-thusiasts’

New for 2019, organisers have added a dash of “gin ne sais quoi” for connoisseurs of fine spirits by attracting artisan producers from around the UK – and report that all 17 exhibition stands sold out more than six months in advance.

Meanwhile, the Gin Quarter will be selling the featured brands by the glass, while the Totally Food area will allow you to browse, graze and buy produce from more than 100 exhibitors.

Gin at Game Fair

3. Man’s best friend

Attracting more pooches than Crufts, The Game Fair is the biggest event in the calendar for gundog lovers, who can have a go with their own dog in the scurry, pick-up and scramble events.

With demonstrations in the Working Dog Arena, there are ample opportunities to learn from top trainers or meet more than 20 gundog breeds in the Sporting Dog Pavilion.

You can also watch the UK and Europe’s best handlers and their charges as they compete in the Home International and Euro Challenge competitions.

Gundogs at Game Fair

Game Fair 2019 in numbers

■ 179 acres Area of the site at Hatfield House
■ 60,000 Dogs come to event every year
■ 5,000 Teas and coffees consumed in the Enclosure
■ £30m Generated for the regional and wider economy when the event was last at Hatfield House in 2017
■ 3,500m Length of temporary timber fences that will be erected
■ 750 to 800 Number of trade stands expected
■ 558m Length of the clay line
■ 1,000 Pitches available at the campsite
■ 61 Years since the Game Fair began (in 1958)
■ 53 Average age of visitors

4. Let there be dark

Test the latest night-vision and thermal imaging technology in the new state-of-the-art blackout tunnel.

The 80ft tunnel and viewing deck will be the focal point of the enlarged Gamekeepers’ Row – an imposing structure ideal for testing scopes, range finders, thermal imagers and optics, with a series of realistic and life-size targets inside the tunnel.

Falcon at Game Fair

5. Live theatre

The recent controversy over Natural England’s approach to wild bird control and the reaction of the farming and shooting community will be just one of the topics discussed in the Game Fair theatre.

Three days of lively debate and chat are promised, as political heavyweights, countryside celebrities and sporting superstars appear on various panels.

Former TV presenter Robin Page, Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner and animal welfare consultant Jim Barrington are among the speakers.

6. Globetrotting

Fancy finding out about thrilling outdoor adventure experiences across the globe? Well, a dedicated area, new for 2019, will be created in partnership with the Association of Independent Tour Operators.

It brings together the sporting travel world of shooting, fly-fishing and adventure sports – so you can discover how to use a rod or a gun as a passport to sporting adventures around the world.

From shooting partridge in Spain to fly-fishing in the Pyrenees, you can find out about some of the best lodges and hospitality on offer.

The Game Fair 2019

■ Location: Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
■ Dates: Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July

■ Adult: £27 in advance for one day (gate price £34) or £75 for three days
■ Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): £67 in advance (gate price £80) for one day or £200 for three days
■ Children (8-16 years): £10 in advance for one day and £30 for three days.
■ Under eight years: free
■ Concessions available for senior citizens (60-plus) and military personnel
■ Go to the website for tickets and more information

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