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What’s Your View Of the Demise Of Game Fairs?

What started as a comment has grown into a full on debate and just goes to show how passionate everyone is about the demise of Game fairs.

After putting a picture on Facebook of the latest game fair at Ragley Hall with the comment:

“Is it the weather that keeps people away? … so so sad to see fishing village more like ghost village” my phone would not stop beeping as comment after comment started to appear on this post. Many people expressing their views and more importantly what they thought was wrong with the current shows along with ideas, both as customers or as an exhibitor what they would like to see.

With so much attention I have now been invited to meet with the organisers of the shows to discuss both my views and also a collective views of ALL OF YOU.

Therefore we have the perfect opportunity to collect EVERYONES ideas, which I will collate and present to the show organisers, it will then be up to them if they wish to listen. I am sure they will otherwise it is not going to be long before someone says enough is enough and fishing leaves these shows for good to have their own dedicated show, which personally I think would be a great shame. Fishing is very much apart of country sports and country way of life therefore it should be well and fairly represented at these types of shows.

Please take this opportunity to both share this to EVERYONE you know and add your constructive comments / ideas below.


  1. Mike Mogilnicki

    I have been involved with the Game Fair and other country events for over 40 years, mostly on the shooting side. At one time the CLA Game fair was THE event with almost no rivals in sight. A yearly visit to anyone interested in field sports was almost mandatory. The CLA decided that it could milk the cow at both ends, charging ever increased fees to both stand holders and visitors until it finally imploded upon itself. They failed to grasp that without one, they would not attract the other.
    Since then, dozens of mini fairs have appeared, both indoor and outdoor, to the point that, if you are prepared to travel, you can visit a show almost every weekend from February to October. The number of traders prepared and equipped to attend these shows has not altered but are now spread much more sparsely.
    The various organisers, finding it increasingly difficult to get traders to attend, are having to diversify from the traditional field sports into stands selling cheap carpets, fluffy toys, garden furniture etc. The title ‘Country Crafts’ covers a multitude of products but the market can only absorb so many bags of lavender.
    The bottom line is that as these so called ‘Game Fairs’ become less and less attractive to the genuine field sports visitor, attendances will fall and traders will pull out. Without one, you won’t get the other.

    1. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

      Hi Mike thanks for your comments and I agree with you on many points. One thing that has come to my attention is the vast sums of money that is charged by the location of some of these events. I know its a way that these estates can rase money for their upkeep, however there are so many huge show grounds that are more than big enough to take and handle any game fair. They are a 5th of the price, they do not cost so much to set up as all the infrastructure is ALWAYS there. Traffic management is far far better and easier to get too. OK a huge show ground is not such a posh location as Ragley, Blenheim Palace etc. However 90% of customers who attend do not care if the location is a stately hall.

  2. Jim Midgley

    A very good friend of mine and a hotelier who’s business was in Kenya had exhibited many years ago in the Anglers Row but due to poor response he moved the following years to Gunmakers Row – the result great footfall and business increased considerably, he stayed there till the hotel was refurbished recently. The hotel also catered for Safaris and Dove shooting which were there but the Big Game fishing was the main draw. Consequently he stayed there. The answer was simple that more people who had money to spend were at the Gunmakers Row, the Fishermans Row were poor cousins, no major manufactures there and cheap gear being flogged off not making it condusive to his sales. Although I used to wander through Fishermans row to see a few friends there was little that i wanted to see and of course it was always situated in the row furtherest away. I must admit that I had press entry however cost would not have come into it in my own view. I did not attend this year however due to other commitments.

    1. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

      Jim I think I know who you mean was his name Gary ?

  3. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Martin Salter I would love a copy of that Marti

  4. Martin Salter

    Hi John. Did you see the report I did after a disappointing attendance at a previous GF under the old management?

  5. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    John Hunter that’s why I am trying to collate as many opinions as possible

  6. John Hunter

    I am going to organise a meeting for all stakeholders and potentials later in the year with The Game Fair MD and site planners. Together we can make this work

  7. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Wow everyone thank you so far for your comments and recommendations.

    I only put this up as I was sad to see it like this, plus as it was so tiny compared to what it could and should be.

    I have been told the attendance has been better today probably due to the weather being not so warm. I would love to get anyones feedback from the show today.

    I am also going to take all these comments and add a blog to our website about the Game Fair as I really would like to get everyones views about what a Game Fair should be like? what would encourage you to attend and spend your hard earned money on an entrance fee. Likewise what is the fly fishing industry looking for from a show, what would encourage them to pay to attend.

    Everyones views and comments are appreciated and I will collate and pass on to the organisers.

    Note this is not a pop at The Game Fair it is to see how to try and save the fishing village. #TheGameFair The Game Fair

  8. Deaks Jon

    Ticket price too high if you want footfall

  9. Roger Kingston

    The last game fair I went to at Harewood some years ago was expensive to get in and then the Fishing section was small. Most of the exhibitors were selling garbage and the people I really wanted to see just weren’t there. Such a shame.

  10. David Hanncock

    I can see the merit in demo style roadshows/events, even indoors, but not in paying £34 to shop for a day.

  11. Babs Craig

    Yes, I work a lot of these sorts of events in summer, this year footfall is down due to the heat. Or people come in early & only stay an hour or so; then go.

  12. Douglas Aitken

    It is a reflection on the state of the industry. Over supply and under demand. With the rise of the internet everyone is now an expert and knows the price of everything but perhaps not the value We all have to move as the market dictates or you become surplus to requirements.

  13. Tim Pilcher

    Trouble starts from wholesalers supplying every Tom, dick and harry becomes a price war for some only way to sell is discount heavily killing trade for others, all people end up eating each other just to get a quick sale with no margin totally destroying brand integrity.

  14. Tim Pilcher

    Spot on again Tom

  15. Tom Hunt

    You only have to look at Chatsworth Show these days. It’s gone from being a fantastic Country Show to what seems like a Sunday market.

    Buy the latest super mop with 5 blade attachment that also doubles up as a BBQ.

    The vast majority of people attending like the idea of Country pursuits as long as they don’t have to kill or cook anything. It’s all just a facade to show that they care. In actual fact they would rather spend £30 on a bottle of gin and a crap veg spiral maker!

    Give the genuine Country addict a reason to attend.

    Maybe the answer doesn’t lay in the hands of the manufactures but in the hands of the retailer. Maybe if there wasn’t a constant SALE, Black Friday, Cyber Monday event then shows would be the perfect place for retailers to sell end of line discounted products as well as a place for manufacturers/Brands to showcase new products promoted and demonstrated by sponsored anglers and team members!

  16. Steve Cullen

    Price of admission doesn’t come into it!
    You’re Andy Buckley a ‘sponsored’ angler, you’re really not there to buy, that’s why there was a fisher ‘persons’ row, in the 1st place, as it was there to promote and sell product, all of which is now done through other channels, want a bargain, go online, there’s no need to go here anymore. You could advocate the benefits of talks and seminars, sadly, again, all of that is online. The people that do the demos are great, for the most part, I have to say I’ve witnessed some utterly woeful demos, but for the most part they’re good. But it’s the same people doing the same thing, if you’ve seen it once…
    People need a good reason to travel and pay entry fees to shows now, if you don’t give them enough incentives, they won’t come.
    Discontinued and discounted gear, a casting demo on a stagnant pond and a luke-warm burger, ain’t cutting the mustard! ?

  17. John Edwards

    So £60 for a couple to get in, plus fuel costs to get there, maybe an overnight stay even. Then food and drinks for the day of course . It is going to be quite a it of money for a day out, and the “deals” that game fairs were once renowned for are long gone. And if you have kids !!! Plus fewer stalls to see because small business folks simply cannot afford the fees. Unless something changes I think we might be seeing the end of game fairs, it is sad as they used to be a pale to catch up with mates, have a bit crack with like minded people and grab a bargain to boot.

  18. Vince Brandon

    Some people like casting, same as some people like fly tying. I’d never have got started if I’d had to sit in a tent with a load of old, overweight, sweaty, myopic men for 3 days, trying to get feathers, fur and tinsel to stick to a hook without using glue. I might even have taken up shooting tame birds at point blank range

  19. Steve Cullen

    Why would anyone want to go fly fishing if they first had to spend days with some casting on grass with some arsehole pointing out the clock method!

  20. Steve Cullen

    I’ve done the whole volunteering thing helping others learn fly fishing and teaching kids, the issue is they all want to do it when it’s hot and NICE, the time when you really don’t want to be fishing! There’s nowt to catch. I also see bandits ( and they are bandits) dong casting classes spending hour son end on grass, people are not interested,okay, sorry some sad people are, but for the most part people want to catch fish!

  21. David Hancock

    Price of entry.

  22. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Davy totally agree and until it has a major shake up it’s just going to continue to go down hill. When will they realise that many of the shooters are big anglers but they don’t bother walking all the way down from gun makers to fishing village. The fishing can be made great again but only if people will sit back take off their blinkers and think outside the box.

  23. Davy Newell


    Why would anyone take a stand in fisherman’s row?
    Always the farthest reaches of a show, where less than half the visitors can be bothered going, been dying a slow death for years.

    It’s the future now not the past. Put it out of its misery and sell good tackle beside good guns.

    Fishing should be in the mix, not marginalised.

  24. John Hunter

    Peter Collingsworth Happy to catch up with you at some point. The Fishing Village will only work fully with input and support from the industry. This is the start to bring it back stronger but the offering has to be right and it needs to work for everyone. Let’s chat post-show for 2019

  25. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    John no one is saying you have not done a good job my friend just many think there is much more that could be done, would love to have a serious chat one day

  26. Steve Dawes

    It only takes 1 bad day to mess the whole thing up though , rain forecast for Saturday and Sunday which won’t help , maybe everyone should take a step back on costs starting with the venue and work back

  27. John Hunter

    Watching this with interest. Stand prices are pretty decent when you consider the potential footfall of 120,000+ visitors. When the demos are running the fishing village has been pretty busy. One picture doesn’t tell the whole story. Many of the above comments about a changing industry are valid but it IS a chicken and egg. I’ve worked hard to deliver a good experience for all and have brought the prices down for units. I can only try my best – out worst enemy is negativity. It costs a lot of money to run a show like this. Trust me, the organisers are not rolling in it and quaffing champagne all night. I want a successful show and a successful tackle trade

  28. Danny Parkins

    Those glory days are long gone

  29. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Andrew that is so correct and also was the case again this year.

  30. Andrew Cannon

    ….Yet walk down any of the gun rows and you won’t get moved!!!.

  31. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Mike So so true it is time we stand up for our sport

  32. Mike McEwan

    Having read this I think the £100 plus this trip will cost me and my partner would be better spent on a slap up meal. Every year I talk to anglers about this event and the same thoughts are viewed. Is it so hard to put the wrongs right? Probably so when money appears to be the main criteria. Talk to the big companies who shun this event. To get the public’s backing they have to be there in numbers and they won’t come just for the publicity. It is virtually impossible for them to cover their costs. They want to make money not just to pay through the nose for publicity. Let’s get it right, it’s not just this event where the fishing section fails dismally. Every other game fair event is the same. A crap angling section. The same mistakes are obviously being made everywhere and we don’t seem to have the people who can grasp simple things and put them right.

  33. Vince Brandon

    I always go to look at the falcons, so does my wife but she won’t go to the fishing village. More people are interested in birds than fly fishing. Game fairs get a bit samey, so we rarely go and we have 2 good ones on our doorstep. I shop online but only invest large lumps in something I have tried by borrowing from a friend or on recommendations from someone I trust.

  34. Andrew Gage

    The CLA gamefair was my best value show I exhibited at, I would do half the turnover of Chelsea with 1/10th of the cost

  35. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Ivor Shooting is more busy but that even looks way down what is strangle they have a falconry area which is 3 times the sizes of the fishing village

  36. Ifor Jones

    One time game fair was the place to pick up a bargain or two, Internet shopping is cheaper and currently with footfall down in shops and fisheries due to the weather I’ve seen some crazy online deals.

    Was the shooting area busy?

  37. Babs Craig

    That’s down to bad site planning, thevtrafers in this area NEED to tell the organisers, if the organisers do not know there’s a problem? They won’t know it needs fixing or looking at. Event feedback is crucial

  38. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Mathew I totally agree the fishing village has been too isolated for many years it is very much the poor relation

  39. Mathew Bird

    I was at the fair today and the fishing section was such a disappointment! Isolated from the rest of the show and hardly anyone there- at 2pm- For the UKs most favourite pastime- a massive effort is needed for future events.

  40. Gary Poole

    Peter Collingsworth, sorry we did not meet at the event.

    We were very busy on Friday, but less so on Saturday and Sunday. That said we were frequently we were giving 5 or more 20min lessons at a time. So mostly I had a rod in my hand, not a camera. This was taken when the wind was particularly high, note the banners are bent over. Essentially wind stopped play for the BFCC accuracy and distance events.

  41. Babs Craig

    Still a truck fest in peterbro in May, but run by a event management company.
    Still loads of shows being organised by individuals (like myself) all over.
    But it’s not easy to do, takes a lot of time, you do need to be organised, learn about trades/industries that you don’t deal with day to day, licensing, risk assessments, site planning, advertising & then there is the problem solving on the day. That’s just the tip of that iceberg: the main factor this summer in lower footfall across ALL SORTS of events has been the weather esp for any event held outdoors. Weather can make or break an event.

    I also (amoungst other things) work as event staff all over East Anglia. We are 1st in sure & last to leave; see:work on all sorts. I use these other events to my advantage on seeing how they manage their sites/layouts/problems etc. I see 1st hand reduced footfall, we still have to work in 30C+ weather. But punters won’t go if not pre-bought tickets. Pissing with rain? Same as above.

  42. Simon Everett

    Peter Collingsworth There is another, less obvious aspect that nobody seems to dare broach. In the USA fishing and ‘hunting’ are things dads do with their sons, and plenty of mums and daughters too. It is seen as NORMAL to go shooting and fishing. Over here, the iPhone generation are fed a diet of ‘shooting is bad’ and ‘fishing is cruel’, right through their formative years (Packham stance?) Schools tend to pillory the fieldsports and forbid class activities of that nature. Those children who do participate have to defend their perfectly legal actions to their peers…. so no wonder the Game Fairs are falling out of favour. To use some modern parlance: fieldsports aren’t trending at the moment.

  43. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Very well put fishing and shooting should be for everyone that’s why we treat all customers the same regardless if you travel with us 4 times a year or only once every 4 years

  44. Simon Everett

    The Truckfests suffered the same fate. As soon as Roy and Sarah started doing a few, more family orientated truck shows, where the beer was CHEAPER than in town, and burgers were THE SAME PRICE as elsewhere, the place was heaving. The only reason they dropped out of running them was through ill-health. They thrived right to the end. I am not sure if anyone took up the mantle – but there is a parallel to be drawn. The truck shows had NO sales of trucks going on – it was just a day out for truck orientated folks. Those who were owner drivers, drivers for bigger firms who had customised trucks, people who just liked to see them…..hands on activities for the kids (colouring competitions was one), just very simple approach. Price to get in was reasonable too. As soon as you turn to ‘countryside matters’ the prices go through the roof, because the immediate mental picture is of people driving top end Range Rovers in green wellies and tweeds…..other people who only earn £20,000 a year also like the countryside you know!

  45. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    happy days indeed

  46. Steve Dawes

    Ed Brown indeed they were bud out the back in the caravan pink gins !!!

  47. Ed Brown

    I remember it well!! Happy days

  48. Steve Dawes

    Worked a lot of game fairs in the 70’s and 80’s when I worked at masterline , most of the sales were end of line products, we used it as a good way of getting rid of old stock at discounted prices , there’s always an amount of people go for bargains
    Broadlands was the best trying to catch a salmon that has showed all day in front of Jack Martin as he was doing his casting show , we got it in the end

  49. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Ifor Jones No we are not exhibiting this year, just thought we would come for a couple of days to see the show. In 15 years I hv never seen a show so slow as this

  50. Ifor Jones

    Peter Collingsworth have you a stand at the show? We were offered a stand to promote our fisheries, after looking at the costs associated we decided it wasn’t viable for us. I do hope every business that has gone does ok in this current climate

  51. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Corsican Dave Very well put Dave, I am going to start and move all these comments over to a blog on our website as many people have some really good things to say and comments. The more people have their say the better as It will be best if we can get input from both a customers perspective and also from exhibitors / manufactures. See what everyone wants from a show and then put forward some recommendations.

  52. Peter Finnis

    Nail on the head Dave

  53. Corsican Dave

    These events should work at encouraging both ends of the quality market: the top-end manufacturers & brands alongside high-quality artisan & specialist craftsmen (by making it affordable for them….) what’s different? what’s new? what’s unique? what would i never get the opportunity to see anywhere else? what makes me go “wow!”, inspires me or gives me something to aspire to? that’s what i want to see at a show. endless stalls of cheap clearance product doesn’t inspire me in the least. it speaks volumes that cookery demonstration events are always better attended than anything put on in the fishing ‘theatre’. where’s the sense of fun? where is the WOW?

  54. Peter Finnis

    I’ve been to a lot of game fairs and worked at a few. It’s always amazed me that so much of the fishing village offer is completely at odds with the audience. Look, people who want cheap bargains shop online, they don’t go to country fairs and pay £30 entry to wander amongst the well heeled. The fishing village should focus on top line goods and displays because that is more suited to the people who are there.

  55. Tim PItcher

    Spot on Tom

  56. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Keep the comments coming

  57. Andy Ford

    Well said Tom. Love these events. You meet so many great people. It’s not just bloody shopping!

  58. Tom Hunt

    I think the sad fact is that we live in a social media bubble.

    The fact we are all commenting on here proves that in itself.

    What can I buy at a show that I can’t buy for less online?

    I do some of the shows with my own products and I constantly get asked “What’s your best price mate”

    “The price is the price mate, I have to buy in the materials, buy the Labels, bottle it all up package it and don’t take a wage”

    The vast majority of people just don’t understand why we have to charge what we charge these days.

    The price of a stand plus travel and accommodation is a massive factor for companies plus all the staff they need to man them. Plus loss due to theft etc.

    I used to love going t the CLA with my dad when I was younger but how many kids in modern society have that chance these days?

    And with no disrespect to anyone involved it’s the same demos covering the same topics year after year.

    Where are all the sponsored anglers, comp winners etc? Should they be getting involved with demos?

    I certainly think a positive move would be to put Guns & Fishing together.

    Just my opinion!

  59. Tim Williams

    Spot on Paul.

  60. Simon Slader

    I can remember the days of when you used to have two stands Paul and a few other businesses did as well.

  61. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Very good comments Paul

  62. Paul Morgan

    After 25 years exhibiting on Fisherman’s Row I moved my stand location to the Gunmaker’s area. It’s not ideal, but there is a MUCH greater footfall. A huge problem with the Game Fair is that no-one in the organisation has any knowledge of, or interest in, either fishing or (in my case) books. The ONLY person in the organisation I ever speak to is the high-powered saleswoman, whose only job is to get as much money out of me as possible. For some years, when the organisers of Fisherman’s Row had an interest in the subject, it worked very well, and we had a lot of good specialist stands. Also, and this is enormously important to me, the organisations ( The Wild Trout Trust, the Salmon and Trout Association, The Fly Dressers Guild, the The Grayling Society, etc) all had a large presence. These, together with the numerous staff on the trade stands (Remember the Partridge team under Alan Bramley?) ensured a crowd – and good business for the other trade stands.

  63. Deaks Jon

    No it needs to be a separate entirety people who fish don’t always shoot I do but you will then reduce the size and loose stalls

  64. Babs Craig

    Let me know if you want help organising that if you do want to. I also don’t take any earnings from events I organise knowing how much time they take up, mostly as they are charity fund raisers or events in things I am passionate about.

  65. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    Tom Hunt agreed so many people have said this fishing village needs to be with gun makers, this year they had arts n crafts mixed in with gun makers, fishing has for far too long been the poor relation, they need to involve it or we set up a brand new show for fishing which will completely kill off what’s left but at least we can have a real outdoor show to encourage people old and young in to our sport

  66. Tom Hunt

    It looks to be way too far away from the main attractions. It doesn’t appeal to someone who doesn’t fish.

    Needs to be with the guns

  67. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

    That’s the casting area

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