The annual event attracts upwards of 30,000 people across three days and is an important fundraiser for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, a charity that conducts vital research into Scotland’s most vulnerable species such as capercaillie and salmon.
With so much to see and do during the family-friendly event, once again sponsored by NFU Mutual, visitors might need a helping hand to make sure they don’t miss any of the highlights, so here’s a handy insider’s guide…
First up is the Nick Nairn Restaurant sponsored by butchers JW Galloway. This year sees the popular chef create a bespoke game-based menu for the new riverside restaurant. As well as mingling with diners, Nick will also be taking part in live cooking demos.
The Main Ring will host an array of demos including twice-daily displays from local pipe bands as well as gundogs, falconry, dog agility, thrilling lumberjack displays and hill pony competitions.
The river Tay runs through the estate and gives a focal point for the Fishing Villlage, providing visitors with casting demonstrations from leading names Stuart Sutherland, Andrew Toft, Glenda Powell and Scott McKenzie. Plus, there’s one-to-one lessons on offer to help fix any quirks in your own casting. For competitive visitors, there’s distance and accuracy casting competitions for ladies, gentlemen and junior anglers. There will be dozens of exhibitors on Fisherman’s Row showcasing the very latest angling equipment, accessories and experiences on the market. This year for the first time there will be a dedicated fly-tying area with some of the country’s finest tiers such as Hamish Young and Conan Fyvie.
Shooting and deerstalking enthusiasts are spoilt for choice along Gunmakers’ Row, which is once again sponsored by night vision brand Pulsar. Expect an enormous range of new and used shotguns, rifles, airguns, optics, accessories and clothing from all the leading brands and newer, lesser-known names. Those new to the sport will find a willing ear to listen and plenty of guidance for how to take their first steps in the sport. Clay shooting is on offer, including flurries and other shooting competitions to ensure there’s something for competitive visitors to get their teeth into.
In celebration of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories initiative, the GWCT has gathered an array of authors, scientists and knowledgeable speakers to tell their tales and accounts, celebrating the countryside, reflecting on halcyon days from the past and current work being done to protect the land for future generations. Talks will be hosted in the Children’s Nest, the Adult’s Hive and the GWCT Working Conservationists marquee, all located around the GWCT Central exhibit by the main ring.
Always a popular choice with visitors is the World of Gundogs, the place to go for anyone who loves a waggy tail and seeing these skilled animals trained to perfection. As well as displays and experts on hand there are also a range of competitions throughout the weekend. These aim to replicate the conditions in the field and see gundogs tested on their hunting, marking and retrieving abilities as well as their steadiness to shot.
The GWCT Scottish Game Fair has a very clear identity and mission. It is a showcase of conservation, fieldsports and country life, designed to educate those that are curious in an open and accessible way. It also provides an opportunity for networking and socialising for those that have already made this lifestyle theirs. Nothing quite compares to this event. The GWCT Scottish Game Fair is a national treasure which everyone should attend at least once. Visit scottishfair.com
Dr Dave Parish, Head of Lowland Research, Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust