It was a long time coming due to the delay caused by COVID, and we, like other exhibitors, were concerned it may be cancelled again at the last minute but fortunately it went ahead as planned. The question is however, was it worth it?
The weather was glorious, with the heat on the set up days and first day of the show being oppressive. As I was staying on the exhibitors campsite (not as luxurious as the public site) I found myself sleeping in a tent for more than just a couple of days, so spending a week in my self made sauna proved a little challenging. The uncomfortableness felt was fortunately more than made up for by the hospitality and friendliness of my tented and camper van neighbours. Most, if not all, were from the raptor community and it was a pleasure to be in their company throughout the event. Special thanks to chef Jose Souto who cooked up a wonderful BBQ for us all on the final evening.
Overall the general message going out is that the Fair was a wonderful success and on the whole I would have to agree. It was fantastic to see so many people who clearly love the countryside and associated activities not being dissuaded through media harassment from standing up for their commitment to the countryside and voting with their feet to attend. Equally, it was lovely to see in person so many companies with whom we have had to accept a virtual relationship over the past 18 months. Whilst it is inevitable some have not survived the loss of physical interaction with their customers, many are still here and doing well.
With every upside there is unfortunately a down. I would hope that the organisers respond to some observations positively and look to address them for future events. My main issue is with the lack of game food on offer in the catering area of the show. Now, it might be that no other game food caterers applied to exhibit, in which case the issue is outside of the Game Fair’s control, but it was unfortunate that the vast majority of food on offer came from farmed sources rather than wild. This was after all the Game and not the Country Fair. It was also sad to see some undesirables causing unnecessary trouble for everyone else. I’m not referring to any anti-fieldsports activities (as far as I am aware there was none of that), but rather a large group of people intent on consuming as much alcohol as possible resulting in fighting breaking out within the same group combined with actual daylight robbery from exhibitors stands. Whilst one might forgive the organisers for this behaviour occurring on the first day of the show, the fact that the same protagonists were allowed back in on the subsequent days is most certainly something the organisers must take responsibility for.
Preparations are already ongoing for the 2022 event and judging by the appetite for those attending it should continue to demonstrate the support for the countryside and the activities which make it such a wonderful community to be part of. Hopefully we will see you there!