A month or so from now much of the shooting industry will be packing its bags ahead of making the journey to Ragley Hall in preparation for the 2018 Game Fair. If the weather remains much as forecast attendance records may well be shattered. There is something of the gathering of the clan about this annual event. Someone once observed that the Game Fair was the only place you might find the traditional sporting man in the company of 5000 others all wearing 30 pounds of tweed on the hottest day of the year. That may no longer be true if it ever was, but it is inescapable that this is a coming together of a richly varied tribe united around an abiding enthusiasm for the country pursuits and the way of life that sustains it.
The numbers are staggering. On previous showings close to 150,000 may well turn up this year, more than 4 in 5 of whom take part in one or more fieldsports. There will be close to 900 exhibitors. Mind you some of the numbers are a bit iffy. Apparently the average spend per person at last year’s event was £288 adding up, according to the organisers, to a total of £75 million. A quick bit of long division suggests that equates to an attendance of more than 250,000 people. They’re not quite there yet. Irrespective of the dodgy maths, the Game Fair is important in ways that go well beyond its financial clout. And in one way especially. It acts as a powerful reminder to those in power, that fieldsports supporters are a very real group of people, significant in number and united behind their activity and that when the time comes prepared to make their voice count.