GAME FAIR BUILD-UP: Interview with Tony Wall

CLA Game Fair, Blenheim Palace, Copyright CLA 2014  Picture information: LtoR Peveral Manners owner of Belvoir Farms Elouise Manners and Tony Wall. For further information on this story, please contact CLA

Tony Wall, CLA Game Fair director

It’s not long now until the fair. How is the build up going?
The build up is going well. The mowing of the site in full swing and it looks terrific. The water supply is good and the fence work is also under way.

Back in 2007 at Harewood House the Game Fair was unfortunately rained off. Have you made some weather-proofing provisions this year?
We did some remedial work before moving on site, regarding drainage and such. A small amount of trenching was recommended and undertaken. We learned a lot from 2007, and also 2012, when we had to cancel the fair at Belvoir Castle. We now ensure we look after the land, just in case, and we have laid down a spine of trackway to ensure we can get exhibitors on and off the site. Constant monitoring of the weather now takes place.

What’s new at the fair this year? What can visitors and exhibitors get excited about?
A number of new items include the Estates Challenge, which involves two gamekeepers shooting and two people as the pickers up. The winning team gets a Mitsubishi L200 for a year. The Great British Village is an area for small cottage industries and incorporates a vintage helter-skelter and roundabout, along with locally produced food. There’s also the Grouse Butt challenge on the Shooting Line, with two of the country’s top shots challenging all comers. Similarly, there’s a High Pheasant Stand. Kayaks are a new entry to fishing and are proving incredibly popular as a fishing platform. And the Skoda Young Drivers allows participants from 11 years and up to drive dual-controlled Yetis on a gentle off road course.

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The CLA team is hard at work getting the site at Harewood House ready for the influx of nearly 150,000 visitors

How can exhibitors make the most out of the fair? Any tips?
Of course, exhibitors have chance to showcase new products. But there are also Wi-Fi hotspots that can be sponsored, which would give wider exposure and data capture for the sponsor/exhibitor.

As the largest and most famous game fair, does the CLA Game Fair team feel the pressure to meet exhibitors’ and visitors’ expectations? How do you make sure you keep raising the bar, year on year?
Keeping up standards with both old favourites and new events keeps us where we wish to be. We constantly strive to make it ‘the event to be seen at’. This year there’s a brand new picnic lawn in front of Harewood House with an opportunity to pre-order a hamper.

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The grounds at Harewood House, where the preparations are now well underway

How big will the Game Fair be this year? Does it just keep on growing?
We are actually looking at a reduced number of exhibitors, around 800-850, down from 943 in 2014. This was suggested by a number of our exhibitors to prevent too much repetition of product. Visitors will hopefully be in the region of 145,000-150,000.

What part of the fair are you, personally, looking forward to most?
I’m looking forward to the Shooting Line, as it has been freshened up to include the Grouse Butt Challenge and High Pheasant, to encourage game shots and clay busters.

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