THE launch event of the first Welsh Game Fair in Gwynedd proved a roaring success yesterday (May 18).

The fair will be held at the Vaynol Estate in Bangor from September 9-11, following in the footsteps of similar events already established in Scotland and England.

Approximately 100 guests at the estate heard speeches from James Gower (managing director of The Game Fair) and Sue Evans (director, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Cymru).

The event will raise money to support the GWCT’s charitable work and give a boost to the region, with tourism and visitors contributing to the economy.

The Vaynol Estate previously hosted Radio 1’s Big Weekend more than 10 years ago, attracting 40,000 music fans.

The GWCT Welsh Game Fair will feature fishing, clay shooting, gundogs, game cookery, falconry, horses and hounds, as well as rural crafts, food and drink.

Visitors can look forward to a wide range of attractions, displays, live debates, shopping at hundreds of trade stands and family entertainment, all with a countryside theme.

The Clay Shooting Line and Gunmakers Row, both extremely popular elements of the Scottish and National Game Fairs, will feature alongside a wealth of Welsh produce.

The Llanfairfechan-based farmer, Gareth Wyn Jones, and chef Bryn Williams, who will be in charge of the catering at the three-day event, also spoke on the importance of celebrating home-grown produce.

Later, guests had the opportunity to try a range of activities, including tours of the estate and its underground tunnels and rifle rang, enjoy a falconry display, and try their hands at clay shooting and fly fishing.

James said: "Both of the other events have been running for decades, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, and it was time that a national event took place in Wales.

"For the first one, it could be more, but we'd like to get 20,000. I think, over three years that will climb to more like 35,000. We're in it for the long-term.

North Wales Chronicle: Guests had the opportunity to try their hand at clay shooting yesterday. Photo: Welsh Game FairGuests had the opportunity to try their hand at clay shooting yesterday. Photo: Welsh Game Fair

"We're not an agricultural show - you won't see a combine harvester or a cow with a rosette on it at a game fair. We're not a county show, either. It's a unique experience.

"There are people who come to talk to land agents, they might buy equipment, but there are people here talking about sustainability, food sources, best practice, and both sides are just as important as the other.

"This is why Bryn Williams is here. He's not just a chef who's going to do an amazing restaurant, he's telling people where the food is coming from, how it's reared and made, and why it's sustainable. That's what's so unique about game fairs.

North Wales Chronicle: The fair will be held at the Vaynol Estate from September 9-11. Photo: Welsh Game FairThe fair will be held at the Vaynol Estate from September 9-11. Photo: Welsh Game Fair

"This wonderful lake here provides people with the chance to get really up close to fly casting experts, and they can have a go themselves.

"What I've found is people come to a game fair thinking they know what they want to go and see, but what they originally come for often morphs slightly.

"Underneath the estate are the original railway tunnels, which are now used by a rifle and pistol club.

"So if people want to, very safely, experience rifles and pistols, they can go and do so in the Vaynol tunnels. You can't do that at any other event. There are people who have travelled here just for those tunnels.

"What you look for in a venue is size and scale, the soil type, good communications, and lots of parking and room for camping, and this has all of those.

"We're within striking distance of Liverpool and Manchester, as well, so we picked here for those reasons."

The aim of the fair is to foster greater communication and cooperation between sectors and promote the benefits of country pursuits and conservation to a wider audience.

Gareth added: "It's a fantastic idea to bring the game fair to the Vaynol and to North Wales. 

"It's a great opportunity to contact people with the rural lifestyle. A lot of people are detached from food production, farming and the countryside, and this will be a great opportunity to connect them with it.

"Hopefully, there will be a lot of schoolchildren here as well, because I think education is key.

North Wales Chronicle: Guests have a go at clay shootingGuests have a go at clay shooting

"We need to be involving them in eating seasonal, local, sustainable and environmentally friendly food. That's really important going forward.

"Game is a fantastic way to feed our families in the winter months. I shoot, I pluck, I clean, and I put them in the freezer, and the birds will last me for many, many months. 

"Criticism is something that we get every day, but we have to pull our heads out of the sand and answer these questions.

"We have to give people an educated choice of what they're eating. Whatever your diet is, you have to understand something will die for your food to go on your plate.

North Wales Chronicle: Guests at the Welsh Game Fair launch event. Photo: Welsh Game FairGuests at the Welsh Game Fair launch event. Photo: Welsh Game Fair

"People say we're murderers and killers as farmers, but one cow will feed many families for many months, and a row of carrots in a field will cause a lot more deaths to insects through insecticides and pesticides.

"If we can get a balance, and make sure we educate the next generation on eating healthily, we can save our NHS millions.

"It's important as well that they know how their food is produced, and what carbon footprint is on that."