The award-winning Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle will be back for 2020, bigger than ever before and now upgraded as the only such event in Ireland, North or South.
Confirming the event which will run over Saturday 27 and Sunday 28th June 2020, Albert Titterington, Show Director and MD of Country Lifestyle Exhibitions Ltd, spoke of his determination to raise the banner for country sports, heritage and pastimes despite the recently-announced demise of competing events elsewhere.
He said: “Since 1978, when we first launched the Game Fair concept in Ireland, we have been privileged to champion country sports and our wider rural heritage with an unbroken run of major annual events. This Summer we will host our 67th major show and we look forward to creating an unparalleled celebration of all things rural in the stunning natural setting of Shanes Castle at Antrim – the biggest show in the country in fact.
“The country sports fraternity truly deserves this fantastic showcase, and we are thrilled to see that already we are enjoying record advance commitment from leading European sportsmen and women, who will be chasing record prize pots when they join us for an event which is primed to be a highlight of the 2020 sporting calendar.
“Beyond this, we look forward to the Irish Game Fair bringing considerable economic benefits to our region. Competitors, exhibitors, performers and standholders will converge on Shanes Castle from across these islands and beyond and the local hospitality industry will benefit as a direct result, but it doesn’t end there. Many of those who come along to enjoy the Irish Game Fair in the fabulous location of Shanes Castle will return to enjoy the region at their leisure.
“We’re also happy that a great many local businesses will also be joining us over the weekend, and we will help them to do brisk business with services and products which encompass everything from country sports and pursuits to heritage and food & drink.”
The Irish Game Fair is launching its expansion plans at a time when other shows have, regrettably, proved unable to stand the test of time and Country Lifestyle Exhibitions has responded to the changes in the marketplace by opting to concentrate its efforts on making the Shanes Castle event an all-Ireland show, deferring its sister game fair in the Republic of Ireland until 2021.
Albert Titterington says: “We are determined that the public will have the ‘Shanes Castle Fair of Fairs’ this year as we step up to the opportunity of creating potentially the biggest country sports event ever held in the country. The Shanes Castle estate is so extensive that there is virtually no limit to the number of people we can welcome over our two days; we know that the infrastructure can cope with the demand we are creating and we have no doubt that the 2020 All Ireland Game Fair will appeal to a huge and diverse market. Already interest from all quarters has almost doubled compared to this time last year when Brexit uncertainties weighed heavily on many business sectors, so we are absolutely on track for an outstanding event.
“Our commercial confidence in this uniquely ambitious concept is echoed in the combination of public and private sector backing which we have secured to support our enterprise over the years, notably the key support from Tourism NI and Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council which we will again bid for in 2020. This funding has enabled us to attract the cream of country sportspeople to compete and allows us to add substantially to an already extensive events and attractions programme whilst maintaining a value-for-money admission fee which ensures the event remains accessible for families.”
Value for money is also key when it comes to attracting participants, with special ferry rates from the UK and discounted accommodation rates already in negotiation for visitors.
Albert concludes: “Every year we innovate with new country events, attractions and displays so that we can genuinely claim to offer something for all the family, from a magnificent display of the largest number of working donkeys ever at a game fair, to the thrill of jousting knights, traditional horse drawn transport and farm vehicles, plus the bang and flash of battle with our historical battle re-enactments with their marching bands. This year we will innovate not only with programme additions and some of the biggest prize pots in Irish Game Fair history, but with what we believe will be the biggest and best Game Fair seen on this island.
“Ever since the very first Game Fair in Ireland, we have received incredible support from country sports enthusiasts and the general public – we hope that will grow still further this year as we bring the whole of the country to Shanes Castle!”