There are now just four weeks to go until the second annual GWCT Welsh Game Fair lands at Vaynol Estate in Gwynedd on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September.
With so much to see and do during the family-friendly event, visitors will invariably need a helping hand to make sure they don’t miss any of the highlights, so here’s a handy insider’s guide…
As well as showcasing fly fishing, clay shooting, gundogs, game cookery, falconry, horses and hounds, rural crafts, food and drink, the 20,000 visitors will be treated to a wide range of attractions. Displays, live debates, shopping at hundreds of trade stands and family entertainment, all with a countryside theme. The event is also an important fundraiser for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), a charity that conducts vital research into Wales’ most vulnerable species such as woodcock and sea trout.
BBC farmer Gareth Wyn Jones is one of the headline attractions – he is hosting a pop-up restaurant called Cwtch Kitchen which will serve breakfast and lunch. “Cwtch is a Welsh term that means warm embrace,” he explained, adding: “This name ties into Welsh culture and highlights the restaurant’s welcoming atmosphere. I’m so passionate about Welsh food and I’m thrilled to be able to share local, seasonal lamb, beef and game with visitors. I want to challenge people’s expectations and show them how versatile Welsh cuisine can be.”
In addition to the food, Cwtch Kitchen will also be a celebration of Welsh culture, with the decor and atmosphere inspired by the surrounding countryside. “I want people to feel like they’re stepping into a special part of Wales when they come to the pop-up,” says Gareth. “We’ll have traditional Welsh music playing, and the walls will be decorated with Welsh artwork and crafts.”
Once visitors have fuelled up, they can enjoy legendary Welsh fisherman Hywel Morgan’s 30-minute demonstrations which will start with a history of angling where he shows equipment used over 200 years ago and explains the development of the materials used in the evolution of the flyfishing rod.
He casts with seven rods simultaneously and shows how easy it is to cast distance with basic and specialist tackle. He will showcase one of his more unusual talents by taking the audience on an imaginary fishing trip and shows how clumsy he can be: breaking the fly rod down until he is using the equivalent of a knitting needle… but still casting the same distance as he would with a full-length rod. The last part sees Hywel using salmon rods, showing and explaining about single and double spey casts and their alternatives.
The whole demonstration culminates with a salmon distance-cast of in excess of 80 metres. As well as Hywel’s demos, visitors can paddle across in the lake in a traditional Welsh coracle, thanks to The Coracle Society exhibiting both days, and browse the numerous Welsh fishing associations that will be present.
The fly tying tent will see top names such as Trevor Jones, Melvin Wood, Tim Wood, Stephen Smalley and Mathew Pate giving demos and answering questions all weekend. The event is also playing host to the final of the Game Fair Casting Championships, where anglers from all over Britain that have qualified in dry fly accuracy, trout distance and salmon distance at the Scottish, English and Welsh Game Fairs go head-to-head. Last year’s champion, 19-year-old Scottish plumber Robert Reid will be back competing to defend his title.
For those interested in game shooting and deerstalking, Gunmakers’ Row will showcase an enormous range of new and used shotguns, rifles, airguns, optics, accessories and clothing from all the leading brands and newer, lesser-known names.
Sponsored by Pulsar, Gunmakers’ Row always attracts the highest footfall – there is something so wholesome about spending a weekend diving in-and-out of stands that catch your eye and speaking to everyone from small-scale leather workers and artisan gunmakers to upmarket optics brands. Clay shooting will be on offer, including flurries and other shooting competitions to ensure there’s something for competitive visitors to get their teeth into.
Gundogs are also a central focus to the event. The third and final leg of the Four Nations International Gundog Competition descends on the estate to bring together the very best gundogs and handlers from England, Ireland, Scotland and of course Wales.
Under Kennel Club rules, spaniels and retrievers are tested on their hunting, marking and retrieving abilities as well as their steadiness to shot. Handlers are judged on their skills in directing and controlling their dog. On the Saturday there will also be a mass gathering of Welsh springer spaniels in the main arena to help raise awareness of this vulnerable native breed.
This two-day event is ideal for families wanting to get kids off screens and doing something wholesome outdoors. Gareth adds: “I am supporting this event because North Wales genuinely needs a proper game fair to call its own, where we can educate people about the countryside, farming, food production and country pursuits. This remote part of Britain was in real need of an annual event that can be used to bring town and country together. Events like these help secure our way of life for future generations.”
For tickets, visit welshgamefair.org
Early bird ticket discount ends at midnight on Friday 8 September.