CLA cancels the Game Fair

The CLA has announced that it can no longer underwrite the Game Fair.

In a serious blow to rural industries, the CLA has announced that it can no longer underwrite the Game Fair, a huge and much-loved annual gathering of country folk which is rotated around some of England’s greatest houses.

There will now be a consultation period. The landowners’ lobbying body has thrown down the challenge to other countryside organisations to see if a way can be found to continue running it. In 2016 the Game Fair was due to return to Ragley Hall, where there has been considerable investment in infrastructure.

It is understood that the 2013 event at Ragley Hall, which was blighted by a heatwave, the 2014 running at Blenheim Palace, the flagship venue with footfall of around 140,000, and this year’s Game Fair, which was less well supported, at Harewood in North Yorkshire all lost significant income. In 2012, the Game Fair was cancelled due to rain.

The financial difficulties come despite the presence of thousands of tradestands all paying considerable space charges, spectator entry charges of £35 and a high profile in the media—this year it hosted the Today programme.

The CLA’s director-general, Helen Woolley, said the decision to end the association with such a traditional event was a difficult one. ‘Unfortunately an increasingly crowded summer calendar of outdoor events has contributed to falling attendance. This has led to the event failing to generate enough income and has made it financially unsustainable,’ she explained.

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‘Over the last three years the CLA Board made the decision to invest in the Game Fair because of our strong desire to turn the event around. We have been able to make this investment because of our otherwise robust financial position. However we can no longer ask members to allow their subscriptions to underwrite the losses the event makes.’

Blenheim had already announced that it would no longer host the Game Fair, a decision influenced by the fact that it has a new event for next year, organised by BBC Countryfile and the National Trust.