ONE OF the county’s grandest stately homes is preparing to host the world’s largest outdoor countryside-themed show this summer.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) expect around 150,000 people to attend its three-day Game Fair at Harewood House which starts on Friday, July 31.
It will be the first time in 12 years that the blockbuster event has been held in Yorkshire and will be the sixth time in the fair’s 57-year history that it has taken place at Harewood.
Organisers expect it to generate more than £30 million for the regional and wider rural economy.
With the event just over three months away, this week the CLA hosted members of the press and other invited guests at the historic treasure house near Leeds at a taster day. It was a chance to try out some of the countryside pursuits which paying visitors will be able to have a go at for themselves later in the year.
Tony Wall, director of the CLA Game Fair, said: “We are looking forward to heading north again and delighted to be returning to Harewood House which is such a popular venue with both visitors and exhibitors.”
Since Harewood last hosted the event in 2003, the fair has toured other parts of the country, including Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
Among the outdoor activities for visitors to try at this year’s event will be archery, clay shooting, fishing and kayaking.
Chris Ogborne, the Game Fair’s head of fishing, said: “Visitors can actually try the craft on site and get help in choosing the right kayak, paddle, clothing and buoyancy aid - even the right roof rack for the car. The kayak experience areas at the CLA Game Fair will provide a unique insight into this amazing sport.”
The event is also host to the British Championships of the STIHL Timbersports series on Saturday, August 1. Considered the major league of lumberjack sports worldwide, the competition was first held 30 years ago and each discipline in the series replicates a scenario typically faced by a lumberjack. Visitors will be able try a lumberjack sport too.
A new gundog competition is included in the line-up. The Mitsubishi Motors Estate Challenge will be held on the Friday and is open to any estate to showcase their team of gamekeepers and picker-uppers with gundogs of any variety - pedigree or not.
Each team will consist of two gamekeepers and two picker-uppers. The gamekeepers will shoot clays on the shooting line and their score will determine how much time and how many dummies are to be picked up.
In addition, the event features falconry, ferreting and cooking demonstrations, and educational activities for children.
Dorothy Fairburn, regional director for the CLA in the North, said: “The Game Fair is a great day out for all the family and an opportunity to have a go at all sorts of sports that you might not usually have a chance to try.”
British food will also be showcased at this year’s show. A Game Chef of the Year contest is planned, alongside a Great British Flavour competition.
The Game Fair has chosen youth charity The Prince’s Trust as its official charity for 2015.
Set up in 1976, the charity supports 13 to 30-year-olds who are struggling at school, are unemployed, or facing issues such as homelessness, trouble with the law or mental health problems.
Three in four young people supported by the Prince’s Trust successfully move into work, education or training.
Visitors to the Game Fair can make an online donation when they buy tickets to the event and bucket collections will take place at the entrances to Harewood House.