As the Pellpax team prepares for their first ever visit to the Midland Game Fair, I thought it would be interesting to have a chat with Nathan White, Marketing Manager at Countryman Fairs, the company responsible for this incredibly successful show. Nathan was kind enough to take the time to tell me a bit about the Midland Game Fair and his own role in this remarkable annual production.
In the beginning …
Predictably, the first thing I wanted to know was, when and how did the Midland Game Fair begin?
“Well, it was down to two men: Philip Poole and John Chatwin. They were driving home after visiting the CLA Game Fair in 1982, and they decided it would be a great idea to hold a similar event in the Midlands. And what better venue for a game fair than Weston Park? So, on their way home, they turned up at Weston Park and knocked on Lord Bradford’s door. Lord Bradford thought it was a marvellous idea, and the Midland Game Fair was born.”
Each year, tens of thousands of people visit the Midland Game Fair, and hundreds of people are involved in exhibiting. It must take a lot of organising! I was curious to know about the logistical headaches behind this successful event.
“One of the most difficult and frustrating elements can be the weather, as it’s entirely out of our control. When the weather is good, the atmosphere at the event is great, and the whole process of organising is fun and enjoyable. However, we’ve had our fair share of inclement weather over the years, which brings its own challenges. That said, we’ve become experts at delivering events, regardless of the conditions.”
And the fun part …
“One of the great aspects of working on events is that no two days are the same. In fact, I’m still experiencing firsts after 14 years! For me personally, the most satisfying – and fun – element of what we do is seeing a whole range of people from different backgrounds, with different interests, having fun together as a community. You know you’ve done something right if you can see that people are enjoying their day out. There really is no better feeling. Also, I very much enjoy a catch up with old friends over the weekend of the show … and I enjoy meeting new ones.”
What’s new this year?
The Midland Game Fair offers a wide range of fun activities, retail opportunities, and stunning spectacles. So much go
es on here, that it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything to add. I asked Nathan whether there’ll be anything new this year – anything that’s never been included before.
“Funny you should ask! We’ve completely refreshed our show layout and added many new elements to our portfolio of entertainment. New for 2019, we’re delighted to welcome the World Hunter Field Target Championships – 360 shooters from over 10 different countries, vying for the chance to be crowned World Champion.
“We’re also delighted to introduce the new Members Enclosure, offering visitors a little more luxury to enhance their day. The package of benefits includes forward parking, fantastic views of the Main Arena, VIP toilets, a private bar, and fine dining.
“The all-new Kids Zone adds a host of new activities for the younger generation to enjoy, completely free of charge. This includes face painting, the Panic Circus games, balloon modelling, a giant deckchair, mini farm, and the chance to meet a unicorn.”
A unicorn! Yay!
“We’ve complemented this with new activities that the whole family can get involved with, including the K9 Aqua Sports (or Dock Dogs). If you haven’t seen or competed in this before, it is a must! Your dog launches itself from a platform into a huge pool to retrieve a tennis ball. The dog who jumps the largest distance will win a prize. Simple, yet so entertaining!”
Wow! And all this is in addition to the old favourites, such as the Festival of Shooting, Airgun Expo, the Working Dog Village, Gamekeepers Row, the Falconry Village, three live music stages, live Chefs’ Demo, and the Food & Beer Festival.
Sporting championships include the Chudleys Gundog Championship, the BASC National Clay Shooting Championship, the Countryman’s Weekly Terrier & Lurcher Champion of Champions, the European Field Target Championship, and the World Stick-Making Championship.
Over the weekend of the Midland Game Fair, the ground is trampled by a lot of people and equipment. I can’t help wondering about the state of the grass after the weekend.
“Weston Park has been home to the Midland Game Fair and a host of other large-scale events for over 30 years. The estate has invested significantly in infrastructure over the years, resulting in one of the finest and most robust outdoor venues in the UK. We meticulously plan the layout and manage the site to ensure the public aisleways are always protected and in perfect condition to welcome our visitors. We recognise our responsibility to protect the spectacular historic parkland, and usually return the venue to the estate with little more than superficial wear and tear, which recovers quickly.”
Nathan began working for Countryman Fairs in 2005, and since then, he’s learnt about all the aspects of the company and its processes. Having spent some considerable time accumulating in-depth knowledge of all the roles within the company, Nathan is now Marketing Manager – a position he’s held for three years. He told me a bit about his work.
“I oversee all aspects of marketing – including advertising, customer experience, and social media – and I explore new and innovative ways of reaching our target audience, and ways of identifying new markets. I’m also the ‘voice’ of our customers; I try to implement what they would like to see at each of our events.”
Will Nathan be at the Midland Game Fair this year? And what will he be doing during the weekend?
“Yes, I’ll be there. My main role is overseeing competitions, demonstrations, and attractions – making sure that they have all they need for the weekend. I’ll also be ensuring that features such as the Chefs’ Demo, the Kids Zone and the Members Enclosure all run smoothly.
“In between all this, I’ve occasionally been known to sample a pint or two at the bar, which gives me an opportunity to catch up with exhibitors and visitors about their experiences.”
See you there!
It was a real pleasure to talk to Nathan White about the Midland Game Fair, which will take place on the weekend of 14 and 15 September. Pellpax will be there, in partnership with John Rothery and Umarex. Come and say hello!
For more information, just give us a call on 01263 731 585 or email [email protected].