A spectacular celebration of conservation and the countryside for over three decades, the GWCT Scottish Game Fair will return to Scone Palace in Perthshire this weekend.
Sponsored by NFU Mutual, the 32nd Game and Wildlife Trust fair will run from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 September.
The three-day event attracts more than 30,000 visitors and will see more than 400 exhibitors come together to showcase some of the country’s finest crafts and clothing, activities and advisory stands.
Whether you’re interested in gundogs, falconry, local food and drink, fly fishing, deer stalking or game shooting, there’s plenty to see and do.
To make things easier, here’s just a few of this year’s highlights:
Whether you own a gundog or simply want to see man’s best friend in action, the gundog area is one not to miss. There’s a jam-packed schedule of competitions including the Four Nations International Gundog Competition which takes place on the Saturday and sees teams from Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales competing with spaniels in the morning and retrievers in the afternoon. There’s also the Any Variety All Age Spaniel and Retriever Tests taking place on Friday with the Any Variety Open Tests plus a Junior Handler Competition on Sunday from 12.30-1.30pm. The Scurry takes place on all three days and is open to all handlers and any breed of dog with first, second and third place prizes awarded for adults and juniors (£3 entry). There’s a great selection of prizes up for grabs like a Tuffies Dog Bed, Tankards and dog food vouchers. This year’s Gundog area is kindly sponsored by Skinner’s dog food.
The Main Ring
Across all three days, visitors can expect to see a huge variety of demonstrations of everything from falconry to pipe bands. Marvel at the spectacle of the birds of prey display from Elite Falconry which will include owls, hawks, vultures and falcons. Sunday will see a special demonstration of working hill ponies from the Balmoral Estate. Stud manager Sylvia Ormiston will discuss the training process of this versatile Highland breed. Across the weekend, visitors can also see the Vale of Atholl, Blairgowrie and Perth & District Pipe bands plus displays from the Jedforest Hounds and Dynamic Dogs.
Peckish visitors should definitely pay the Food Theatre a visit, with plenty of great talks and demonstrations to get taste buds tingling. Join Amy Rankine on a foraging expedition and see her cook with what you find. Amy will lead two foraging walks through the grounds of Scone Palace, one on Friday and one on Sunday, ending at the food theatre for the 12.30pm session preparing a dish or two from the gathered ingredients. Booking for the walks is online but the presentations are open to all. Watch Praveen Kumar prepare a delicious game bhuna curry and discuss food from the Southern Indian region and how best to source ingredients locally. With five presentations a day there’s more than enough for visitors to sink their teeth into.
Calling all young scientists! Come and visit the Bio Bus at the Covey Tent, the state-of-the-art mobile lab, become a disease detective and learn about the ticking time bomb, look through microscopes and talk to scientists. Come and test your bird and mammal ID skills, put our new technology into practise and see how your results might be used. Try your hand at matching feathers and feet to win prizes. For those needing a more relaxing time there are countryside stories being read in the giant bird nest. Artists amongst you must join Julian Jardine in his ceramic workshops, free for all. Perhaps you are more of an inventor or a crafter, take part in the Bidwells ‘Planet Positive’ workshop or be a superhero and invent an idea to help stop climate change. The Angus Moorland Group will be showing all sorts of aspects of life in the hills from spraying sheep to plucking pigeons, come and get involved and win a beautiful wood carving. Or are fish more your thing, life in the Dee is on show with more activities and goodies to take away. There is something for everyone in the Covey tent, lots of prizes to be won and goodies to take home.
Add a level of luxury to your visit to this year’s event by taking advantage of one of the VIP packages available. The Grouse package (£87) includes entry to the event along with a copy of the official show guide, plus access to purchase an otherwise sold out forward parking spot, along with a delicious breakfast created by chef Tim Maddams and all-day entry to the VIP Enclosure, garden, lounge, cash bar and snack menu. The Stag package (£137) includes all of this plus a two-course lunch again with a specially curated menu from Tim.
Bushcraft and Countryside Skills
Channel your inner Bear Grylls and learn how to set traps and snares for catching game, light a fire and bake fresh bread over the camping stove. Visit Activity Row where Amara Bushcraft tutor Lolly Clark – who was the head instructor for Ray Mears for six years – will be on hand along with an expert team to help improve your outdoor survival skills. Lolly was also a consultant for Bear Grylls and has trained all sectors of the military services and many outdoor instructors throughout the UK. There will be a series of open sessions throughout the day along with information on how best to ‘leave no trace’ when camping and alternatives to using fire.
Whether you’re a seasoned angler or simply curious about casting, there’s plenty to do on Fisherman’s Row; located on the banks of the River Tay. Learn about everything from fly tying and fishing conservation to casting techniques and the latest equipment and accessories on the market. Pop by the Casting Clinic where GAIA fly casting instructors and guides will be on hand to teach you how to cast the fly or will help you iron out any existing casting problems. If you feel inspired by watching the daily fly casting demonstrations, you might want to enter one of the fly fishing competitions. Running on the Saturday and Sunday for amateur ladies, gents and youths; there are prizes in each category for the best casts of the day, with the top prize casting event, the Ballathie House Hotel Scottish Open Spey Casting Championship, open to both amateurs and professionals alike.
With clays organised by Pentangle Shooting Services and Buchan Fieldsports, the ever-popular shooting area offers a range of experiences and competitions for experts and beginners alike. There are stands set up for novices to come and try the clay shooting experience. Qualified and friendly instructors will be on hand to guide you with a shotgun that suits your needs. Clays, cartridges and safety protection are provided. Entries for competitions open at 10am at Shooting Control, where full details of rules, entry requirements and prizes can be found. Competitions include a 40-bird competition (for participants, with their own gun with daily prizes for each category: open, ladies and junior (under 18). Ladies day – taking place on the Saturday – offers the chance for an exciting shoot-off with fantastic prizes that include a day’s shooting for two at Gleneagles. Visitors can also take advantage of the on-site storage for your shotguns. If you wish to temporarily store your shotgun during the event you must produce a valid shotgun certificate.
Learn everything there is to know about the 4,000-year-old art from the team at Elite Falconry. With fun, amusing and educational commentary, the team will present a whole variety of birds of prey including owls, eagles, hawks, vultures, and kites. Far from showcasing tricks and gimmicks, the birds will only fly in a way that demonstrates their behaviour in the wild. With two demonstrations a day taking place in the main ring at 11.30am and 3.05pm, handlers will put together a scene to show how the group finds and surrounds a carcass. Visitors will be able to see how the hierarchy between the scavenger birds works and learn more about the significance of nature’s clean-up crew: vultures, who are sadly in critical decline. There will be an opportunity to view the birds up close during a static display where visitors can ask staff any burning bird questions.
With over 400 exhibitors showcasing everything from the finest fudge, gin, smoked salmon and cheese to quality country fashion brands, fieldsports accessories and much more, there are plenty of opportunities to shop. Buying something big or heavy? Don’t despair, you can take advantage of the Shop & Drop service so you can safely leave your purchases in a tent manned by volunteers from Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance, who will also be running the car park shuttle buggy service to take your purchase right to your car.
Find out more at scottishfair.com