The Game Fair’s brand new venue hailed a huge success as it brings together town and country

Organisers of the 59th Game Fair are celebrating after 116,326 people attended the three-day event last weekend, which was an 8% increase on the previous year. The event was held at a brand new venue just from 21 miles from London – Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

The Game Fair was opened on Friday morning with a spectacular 59-gun salute on Gunmakers’ Row. As the world’s largest outdoor fieldsports-themed show, much-loved attractions included gundog handling, clay shooting, archery, fly fishing, coarse fishing, falconry, ferreting and of course shooting which took place on Europe’s largest shooting line consisting of traps, layouts and varied disciplines.

James Gower, managing director of The Game Fair said: “This is a precious event, a British institution that is loved by hundreds of thousands of people and vitally important for the industries it represents. We feel honoured to be the organisers of it but it is the efforts of an incredible team and an entire community that makes it happen.”

Lord Salisbury, who owns Hatfield House, added: “The Hatfield House team work with many event organisers so they have an appreciation of the good and bad. They have found The Game Fair team to be one of the best they’ve worked with. The event is in safe, professional and secure hands. We look forward to welcoming them back in 2019.”

Key facts

  • This was the 59th Game Fair, which started in 1958
  • Saturday was the busiest day for visitors
  • 800 exhibitors attended in total
  • The event is held on a 396-acre site within the 10,000-acre estate
  • It was the first time the event has been held at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, which is owned by Lord and Lady Salisbury
  • Reaching the new venue could not have been simpler, a 23-minute train journey from King’s Cross took visitors to Hatfield station which was just five minutes’ walk from the event. Extra train carriages were laid on to accommodate the influx of visitors
  • For the first time, all members of the British Association of Shooting & Conservation were entitled to complimentary entry for all three days
  • Gregg Wallace’s Shot to Pot restaurant and Gold and Platinum Enclosure hosted over 3,000 guests for lunch and breakfast
  • Numerous competitions took place over the weekend, including Best Dressed Keeper, Best Dressed Lady, Game Fair High Gun, Shetland Pony Grand National, show jumping championships and the Euro Challenge for gundogs
  • Next year The Game Fair will be held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 July. The event will celebrate its 60th Diamond anniversary

Show highlights  

  • Shooting: Sponsored by Subaru, Europe’s longest ever shooting line at 585 meters saw thousands of visitors finesse and try their shooting skills on the estate grounds.
  • Fishing: competitions and demonstrations took place on purpose-built casting pools and the River Lea, the stunning river that runs through Hatfield Estate
  • Food: Culinary delights were sampled at Gregg Wallace’s Shot to Pot pop-up restaurant, Mike Robinson showcased his game butchery skills, and Jose Souto wowed the crowds cooking game provided by sponsor Lincolnshire Game. Food and drink exhibitors tantalised the crowds’ taste buds with their finest country fayre.
  • Game Fair Christmas 2018: The Game Fair team announced the launch of its new initiative, which is taking place 22, 23 and 24 November 2018. Held at Bloomsbury Square and Victoria House, the event will bring the beat of the countryside to the heart of London.

Booming business

Sarah Wood from Gamebirds Clothing said: “We were impressed with the communication and organisation of the event. Our sales have been really strong and our order book is full. We will be back for Ragley Hall next year.”

Adrian Woolford from Orvis said: “I would like to thank the organisers for a very well-managed and well-attended Game Fair this year. Orvis were proud sponsors of the Fishing Village which was brought into the centre of the show for the first time. The Game Fair was the perfect environment to spend time with people with shared passions.”

Jonathan Young from The Field said: “The Hatfield Estate proved to be a fine choice. The traffic flow – always a problem for past Game Fairs – was excellent and there’s something special about walking through parkland peopled with oaks that grew up with Elizabeth I.”

Mark Osbourne of William Powell said: “We have been coming to The Game Fair for more than 25 years and we sold more guns at Hatfield House than any game fair ever before.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “BASC is thrilled with the feedback from its members about the complimentary entry to The Game Fair. It was fantastic to see the shooting community come together for the weekend. Old friendships were cemented, new friendships were made and it was a fine example of why BASC is proud to be at the heart of the UK shooting community.”

Clare Brownlow from Pheasant Feather Art said: “This has been my best ever Game Fair. My stand took no time to breakdown on Sunday as I had sold almost all of my paintings.”

Darren Seward, hospitality, food and drink specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Having the event at a different location this year allowed us to meet new customers as well as old friends. The Game Fair is an important event for us due to the synergies between our two organisations and provides us with an ideal opportunity to network and hear from our customers what’s important to them.”

David Robinson, CEO from Le Chameau, said: “The opportunity The Game Fair gave us to engage with our core audience was unsurpassed. The traffic on our stand throughout the weekend was incredible and we were perhaps one of the only exhibitors happy that it rained!”

Justin Urquhart Stewart from Seven Investment Management, said: “The Game Fair was the most exciting client event that I have been to in years. With a combination of the events, business stands and relevant talks, this proved to be extremely popular. It certainly very helpful for us to both meet a great cross section of potential clients, as well as to both invite and thank existing clients and partners.”