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The Game Fair 2021

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Hornbeam
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Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:12 pm

The Game Fair 2021

#1

Post by Hornbeam » Thu Jul 29, 2021 7:12 am

Last Saturday, I and a friend went up to the Game Fair at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, England. I've been going to these things fairly regularly and in varying capacities for many years. In fact, 40 years ago to this very day I was helping the late Theo Fossell set up his stand for the CLA Game Fair at Stowe (north Bucks). It was the morning of the Royal wedding between HRH Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.

The GF has changed quite a bit over the years that I've attended, but the thing that saddens me most is the enormous decline in the angling content, which has very nearly disappeared. Years ago, there would a grandstand by a lake and a nearly continuous cycle of casting and fishing demos by the great and the good of the angling world. There would be the casting competitions when mighty men would Spey cast prodigious distances and there would usually be quite a crowd gathered throughout each of the three days of the show. Along Fisherman's Row, all of the major game fishing manufacturers would have their stalls and several of the major retailers would be present, as well as various fishing organisations and the major publishers of magazines.

Over the years, I have variously attended the GF associated with the Fly Dressers' Guild and with EMAP (when I did tackle reviews for Trout and Salmon). On Saturday, the casting pond was a narrow trough. I doubt that there were a dozen stands of any specifically angling interest at the show. If one was walking briskly, one could easily have missed the entirety of the Angling Village. Quite pathetic!

What has gone wrong? I don't know what this says about the state of angling as a sport/pastime today, but I would almost wish that angling disappeared entirely from the GF, than see such an enfeebled representation.

With rather a heavy heart,
Tony

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Paul Arden
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Re: The Game Fair 2021

#2

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:36 am

Hi Tony,

Over the years I attended quite a few. First with Guide Fly Fishing and then later with APGAI in the tuition lanes. I always thought it would be a great venue for the fly casting world championships.

I’d heard about the decline in recent years. I’m not sure what caused it but I know quite a few of the retailers pulled out.

James and I went horse riding at one. That was a highlight!

Was it busy apart from fisherman’s row? We are in a major lockdown here so it’s hard to imagine anywhere that’s normal :)

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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James9118
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Re: The Game Fair 2021

#3

Post by James9118 » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:28 pm

Hi Tony,

For the last few years the BFCC has been invited to run the casting competitions - this year they were not invited. When the BFCC was running the comps there was no sponsorship, hence prizes had to be gifted from friends of the club. As such, the cash prizes that tempted the best international casters to travel over were just not there. The competitions were still highly competitive though, albeit with a UK entry list.

From what I was told there wasn't sufficient money in the budget for running the show to hire the pontoons necessary for the casting comps.

That said, perhaps the organisers saw mine and Paul's horse riding and decided never to invite the fly fishing rabble again :D

James

Hornbeam
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Re: The Game Fair 2021

#4

Post by Hornbeam » Fri Jul 30, 2021 6:44 am

The GF was quite busy on the Saturday when we went. There seemed quite a footfall. There was stuff to interest us on Gunmakers' Row, but even there there were some notable absentees. The food section has grown considerably since earlier days, though the stand that was selling plates of delicious spare ribs that we found two years ago was NOT there! Apart from a glass or two of cider, I found that I had bought just two bits of cotton scrim netting (which I use for camouflage when shooting) and an attachment for a garden hose. Not a lot of booty from a Game Fair when compared with the past!

Tony

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Re: The Game Fair 2021

#5

Post by George C » Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:48 am

There is a similar trend in the US.
Sportsman shows have become retail events rather than trade shows.

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Paul Arden
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Re: The Game Fair 2021

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:42 am

Out of curiosity is fishing / fly fishing declining in popularity in the UK? About 25 years ago the number of UK fly anglers was estimated to be around 200,000. But when I visit the reservoirs nowadays they seem very quiet compared to back then. I always felt that one of the causes of a decline in FFers numbers was the end of the Coarse fishing closed season. But that shouldn’t affect angler numbers as a whole.
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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