Time to cross everything and hope the rain doesn't spoil the show again
Britain's biggest rural event is out of the starting blocks with tickets just on sale. Philip Bowern looks at what's in store at for the CLA Game Fair, 2013 - weather permitting.
The scene was set last July for the annual celebration of country sports at the CLA Game Fair at Belvoir Castle, Rutland.
Then the heavens opened (again) in what had already been the wettest summer for decades and with a few days to go before the gates opened the event was reluctantly called off.
It was the second time in six years that the annual event, launched in 1958 and until then uninterrupted, had been cancelled. In 2007, with the event due to be held at Harewood House, Yorkshire, a deluge made the site unusable.
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That's one – or perhaps two – good reasons why this year's Game Fair, to be held at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, is so eagerly anticipated. Last year traders lost out, country sports supporters missed their annual pilgrimage and the many organisations that use the Game Fair to launch new ideas, new products and initiate debates, found themselves without a venue.
So everything will be crossed at the Country Land and Business Association this year as the box office opens for the Game Fair 2013. Yesterday the CLA announced that countdown had begun to the world's largest countryside event – at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from Friday, July 19, to Sunday, July 21.
Organisers are predicting a huge turnout for this year's event which celebrates the countryside and showcases the importance of field sports and country activities to the rural economy.
Director Andrew Crawford said: "The CLA Game Fair is the jewel in the crown of the outdoor show calendar and is recognised nationally and internationally as the biggest countryside event of its kind, promoting all aspects of a living and working countryside.
"Having missed a year, we are expecting a surge of interest with 1,000-plus exhibitors and a very large number of visitors."
"In the current economic climate our exhibitors need as much support from our visitors as possible. So we have held our advance ticket prices at 2012 levels to try to encourage as many visitors as possible."
Visitors will be able to try a range of sports themselves during their day, with have-a-go sessions for everything from field archery, clay shooting, fishing, traditional craft making and falconry to the Land Rover 4x4 course.
The CLA Game Fair is home to the largest fishing event in the UK. A world-class line-up is set to compete in the International Spey Casting Championship and visitors can see demonstrations of game, saltwater, freshwater, carp and coarse fishing.
Around 100 of the leading fishing retailers will be based in Fisherman's Village, where you can "try before you buy" in the rod testing area.
For shooting enthusiasts, Gunmakers Row is the place to be with visitors able to get the latest shooting equipment and advice from leading gunmakers, campaigning organisations and retailers.
Highly skilled gundogs and their handlers will compete in world-class events and demonstrations in the International Arena. For equestrian enthusiasts, Hooked on Horses will include a mini-ring packed with riding demonstrations, advice and displays.
Visitors can learn about birds of prey and the traditional art of falconry or have a bet on the ferret racing, and meet the hounds during their daily parade through the Main Arena.
The Kennel Club will be on hand with advice, nutrition and breed information, including on-site eye testing and micro-chipping services.
The CLA Game Fair is also the place for rural business with leading professional firms, organisations and opinion formers attending. The Woodland Management, Renewables Theatre and Gamekeepers/Estate Management sections present the latest technologies, products and services for rural business.
The CLA Game Fair Theatre hosts a series of topical debates on rural issues with Government ministers, opposition politicians and celebrities.
Totally Food is a must-visit area for all food lovers and brings together some of the finest small, British food producers.
For a more serene experience, people can visit the Elegant Gardens area for quality plant advice and inspiration from Chelsea Gold Medal winners.