CLA Game Fair preview: All eyes on Ragley Hall

TWEED MEDIA-402Gun Trade News looks forward to what’s new at the CLA Game Fair 2013 and grabs a quickfire questions round with fair director Andrew Crawford

It’s only the second time the CLA Game Fair has come to Ragley Hall, but the Warwickshire location feels like a regular home of the show already. It’s just three years since the fair was last here, and in one of the intervening years the show was cancelled. That cancellation, whose cost to the rural economy is usually mooted somewhere around £50 million, hit some businesses hard – so it’s understandable that expectation for this year’s fair has mounted significantly.

So what changes can we expect to see since the last time the fair was here? Though there’s nothing wholesale to expect, says director Andrew Crawford, we can look forward to a more quality-focused (as opposed to quantity-focused) approach, with larger and more sumptuous stands gracing Gunmakers’ Row. We also asked Andrew about show security, future plans for the show, and – of course – the weather.

What measures are you taking this year to ensure weather conditions can’t derail the show?

We aim to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to the British weather. Our independent geological survey company has taken soil samples from Ragley Hall to help identify weak drainage points. They help us use the right mixture of potassium/nitrate fertilisers to encourage root growth in the grass. What’s going on under the ground is more important than what’s happening on the surface. Footfall can quickly destroy grass on the top, but its root system should stop it becoming a quagmire.

As well as this, we have been ensuring irrigation channels are clear and drainage points are cleaned out and ready to function at full capacity. Of course, we will also adjust the amount of tracking as necessary if it looks like we are set for another soggy summer. We are constantly tweaking the layout right up until the final allocation of trade stands.

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We’ve had reports of thefts taking place at a few shows in the past year. What security measures will you have in place at the CLA Game Fair?

The CLA Game Fair takes every possible measure to ensure the highest standard of security during the entire event. We provide more than 5,000 man hours dedicated to security on the actual show site. We also offer all exhibitors the opportunity to have a motion sensor on their stand as an optional extra. We are pleased to say that theft at the CLA Game Fair is negligible.

Last year you talked about a smaller, more quality-focused CLA Game Fair. Is that still the case this year? Roughly how many exhibitors should we expect?

There are fewer exhibitors this year, but they have booked more space. There will be around 900 exhibitors at Ragley Hall, compared to last year when there were more than 1,000. Gunmakers Row has 1.75 kilometres of frontage and the Fishing Village has more than 500 metres.

Are there any changes planned to Gunmakers Row?

This year, Gunmakers Row will be the longest it has ever been. However, there are no real changes to this particular area of the show. I am a great believer in the old adage: if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

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