Tuesday 23 February 2010

Looking forward to the CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall

Vincent Hedley-Lewis, chairman of the Game Fair management committee,
and David Hough, CLA Game Fair director, with an early version of the
site plan for this year's CLA Game Fair, in front of Ragley Hall

Today I visited Ragley Hall, near Alcester in Warwickshire, for a sneak preview of the site for this year's CLA Game Fair, on 23-25 July.

It's a stunning location, with good road links via the M5, M42 and M40 - and also a wonderful showpiece estate with a great tradition of country sports. The shooting on the estate is let to a syndicate who shoot around 30 days a year. There are roe and fallow on the estate, with around 150 head of deer taken each year. And there's coarse fishing, taken by local fishing clubs, on the lake, river and reservoirs. The lake, which will form the centrepiece of this year's fair, is said to contain carp up to 15lb, and some eels of up to 9 or 10lb. And yes, they do have a problem with cormorants!

My attempt at a stitched-together panorama, taken from the far side of the lake,
where the CLA members enclosure is planned to be

The lovely Palladian house, designed in 1680, is home to the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford, and stands in lovely 'Capability Brown' gardens. Around the grounds you'll find the Jerwood collection of quirky sculptures, not to everyone's taste but certainly eyecatching.

Chatting to estate manager Alan Granger, I was impressed to learn that the estate has its own butchers and farm shop selling meat and game from the estate. And they are keen on encouraging young people to come and learn about the countryside and how the estate works, running study days for local schools. The estate recently installed a wood-chip boiler, and now all the heating for the house is fuelled from its own managed woodlands. Coincidentally, Alan used to run Audley End, the estate next door to Sporting Shooter's old offices near Saffron Walden.

Aerial view of the site from Google Maps

Some random Game Fair facts I picked up today:
  • The CLA Game Fair gets around 140,000 visitors over the 3 days
  • There are around 900 exhibitors
  • The average visitor age is 39
  • 80% of visitors participate in at least one country sport
  • 62% of visitors shoot
  • The budget for the first Game Fair, in 1958, was £500
    (they overspent by around 40%, due to much higher than anticipated visitor numbers)
  • Around £15m of trade is done within the show
  • The fair generates around £13m for the local area

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

CLA Gamefair is wlways a great day out (Pimms in the members enclosure!) and often very informative as well as entertaining. Hope I can make it this year.