Traditional country pursuits reimagined for the modern world
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The GWCT Scottish Game Fair returns to Scone Palace in Perthshire from 1-3 July with an incredible itinerary of displays, demonstrations, have-a-go attractions and exhibitors covering everything from fishing and shooting to gundogs and falcons. With so much to see and do during the event, which is once again sponsored by NFU Mutual, visitors might need a helping hand to make sure they don't miss any of the highlights. Here are the top ten things to see and do at this year's three-day event.
This year sees Stirling-born celebrity chef and restaurateur Nick Nairn heading to the GWCT Scottish Game Fair for the first time and that means foodies are in for a treat. Nick will be creating a bespoke menu for visitors to the new riverside restaurant, sponsored by J.W. Galloway, and mingling with guests to share his stories of appearing on the BBC's Ready Steady Cook and cooking for HM The Queen on Great British Menu.
Nick will also be taking part in live cooking demonstrations throughout the event using both local game and prime Scotch beef and lamb from Scottish butcher J.W. Galloway. An umissable attraction for those who love seeing how professional chefs create truly spectacular dishes from good, honest ingredients.
The Main Ring is the beating heart of the GWCT Scottish Game Fair where visitors are treated to an incredible array of displays and demonstrations from every corner of the Scottish countryside - and much further afield! For three days it will host twice-daily displays from local Scottish pipe bands as well as gundogs, falconry, dog agility, fishing demos, thrilling lumberkjack displays, hill pony competitions and terrier racing. Sitting on the grass to chat with friends or leaning on the fence to watch some of these unmissable attractions are an essential part of the visit.
The GWCT Scottish Game Fair has fly fishing at its core. The river Tay runs through the estate and gives a focal point for the event, providing visitors with entertaining casting demonstrations from leading names such as Stuart Sutherland, Andrew Toft, Glenda Powell and Scott Mackenzie. Plus there's one-to-one lessons on offer to help fix any quirks in your own casting. For competitive visitors, there's distance and accuracy casting competitions for ladies, gentlemen and junior anglers.
There will be dozens of exhibitors on Fisherman's Row showcasing the very latest angling equipment, accessories and experiences on the market. This year for the first time there will be a dedicated fly tying area with some of the country's finest tiers such as Hamish Young and Conan Fyvie.
Shooting and stalking enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when they take a wander along Gunmakers' Row, which is once again sponsored by Pulsar and their night vision and thermal optics products. You can expect an enormous range of new and used shotguns, rifles, airguns, optics, accessories and clothing from all the leading brands and newer, lesser-known names. Those new to the sport will find a willing ear to answer all their questions and plenty of guidance for how to take their first steps in the sport.
There will be clay shooting experiences organised by Pentangle Shooting Services and Buchan Field Sports, with their teams on hand throughout the weekend to help newcomers get off to a flying start and improve the shooting of even the most seasoned clay shooters. Flurries and other shooting competitions will run all weekend and ensure there's something for competitive visitors to get their teeth into on all three days of the show.
In celebration of VisitScotland's Year of Stories initiative, the GWCT has gathered an array of authors, scientists and knowledgeable speakers to tell their tales and accounts, celebrating the countryside, reflecting on halycon days from the past and current work being done to protect the land for future generations. Edinburgh Bookshop will also be on hand selling books, including many by our guest readers, so you could get that sought-after-signature! Talks will be hosted in the Children's Nest, the Adult's Hive and the GWCT Working Conservationists marquee, all located around the GWCT Central exhibit by the main ring.
Always a popular choice with visitors old and young, the World of Gundogs is the place to go for anyone who loves a waggy tail and seeing these skilled animals trained to perfection. As well as displays and experts on hand to answer questions there are also a range of competitions throughout the weekend, These aim to replicate the conditions in the field and see gundogs tested on their hunting, marking and retrieving abilities as well as their steadiness to shot.
Categories already confirmed for this year include spaniel and retriever tests, junior handler tests and the ever-popular scurry. The exciting Four Nations International, which sees spaniel and retriever teams from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales compete head-to-head, returns to the arena for 2022.
A visit to the GWCT Scottish Game Fair isn't complete without a visit to the Food Hall. There you'll find a huge variety of food and drink from Scottish artisan producers and tasty delights from further afield. From a sample here and there to keep your energy levels up for the next attraction to buying some amazing produce to take home, there's something for every taste and appetite in the Food Hall.
Fancy sitting out in the sunshine to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat? The Field Kitchen is the place to head with a fantastic range of BBQ and bistro foods, with the GWCT Scottish Game Fair's largest ever bar and beer garden. From fish and chips to a wood-fored pizza you're sure to find something to whet your appetite. If all the food and drink you enjoy inspires you to learn more about cooking yourself, why not head over to our eighth attraction in the top ten?
Foodies, budding chefs and fans of game cooking take note - the Kitchen Theatre returns for 2022 and once again features demos from top-notch chefs and celebrities, all creating incredible dishes from Scottish produce. With a clear focus on sustainability, local farming and game, the Kitchen Theatre will inspire you to try something new when you next don an apron and take to the kitchen and show you how to turn simple game into a show stopping meal. There are five demonstrations every day so it's easy to plan yourn day to make sure you take in at least one...look out for celebrity chefs too!
The jam-packed Activity Row will be packed with have-a-go stands for everything from bushcraft and countryside skills to quad bikes, laser tag and climbing walls. If your party includes anyone young enough to need tiring out, this is the place to head to. There are also demonstrations from the legendary Simon Whitehead and his Pakefield ferrets and a hilarious, entertaining and educational sheep shearing show.
If you prefer your 'activity' to be powered by an internal combustion engine, why not head over to the Off-Road Driving Experience? This year Isuzu and Subaru have partnered to bring a selection of their 4x4 cars for visitors to try, with 30-minute test drives available on the off-road driving course throughout the event.
This year's event is set to welcome over 400 exhibitors for one of the biggets outdoor shopping events in Scotland. They will be showcasing everything from the local food and drink to country fashion and footwear, fieldsports accessories, gifts and homewares. If the thought of carrying your purhcases around all day makes you feel weary, the charity-run Shop and Drop service will take the load and raise money for this year's chosen charity.
For more info and tickets, visit www.scottishfair.com
Traditional country persuits reimagined for the modern world
Volume V, Issue IV's brilliant guest editor is the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust's CEO Teresa Dent CBE.
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