Our 30th anniversary Scottish Game Fair in association this year with NFU Mutual, leading rural insurer, was a great success with just under 30,000 attendees and glorious weather for all the three days.
There has been great feedback from visitors, our programme of ‘have a go’ country sports activities, demos and competitions were very well attended, there were over 500 traders on-site, and lots of new events such as the Junior Macnab competition devised with the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group with over 200 entrants, the 30th anniversary ceilidh and the standalone cookery theatre also playing their part.
It was a packed programme, with highlights including the second running of the International Team Gundog Competition, with England taking the overall title ahead of Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In the main ring the Fred Taylor Memorial Trophy for Working Hill Ponies has become a great favourite with the crowds. This year 17 ponies took part in the parade and competition, with Archie Hay and pony Spey from the Callater Beat, Invercauld Estate, winning the trophy, which, for the second year, was generously sponsored by John Rigby and Co.
The Fair is also an extremely valuable platform for us on the policy front, with the opportunity to show Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, the displays on the central exhibit. With the support of Kings and the James Hutton Institute, who grew an outstanding display of modern game and wildlife crops for us, we highlighted our research work including the InterReg PARTRIDGE project, our research at Auchnerran including the LIFE LaserFence work, Working for Waders, the latest mountain hare survey and the latest developments on traps and predator control. The GWCT stand’s central exhibit also provides an important opportunity for our Advisory Service to demonstrate how science can and must be translated into practical management techniques for those managing land for game and wildlife.
We also beefed up our education offer at the Fair this year with much more for youngsters. At The Covey, the Trust’s new education area, we had hands-on science, storytelling and arts and crafts, all aimed at the next generation of budding young ecologists. As well as a full programme of activities and ‘have-a-go’ opportunities, there were exhibits featuring moths, hatching quail chicks and ferrets, microscopes to explore the farmland underworld, lots of opportunity to encounter bugs and beasties, and a special display highlighting the habitat of the grey partridge. Artist Julian Jardine held ceramic workshops, there was also storytelling, a scavenger hunt and the butterfly bog squad!