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A look ahead to the 2018 Lancashire Game and Country Festival

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 September 2018

Equestrian skills are a key part of the show

Equestrian skills are a key part of the show

not Archant

The Lancashire Game & Country Festival is all set to showcase traditional skills, crafts and sport, writes Julie Frankland

Gundogs being put through their pacesGundogs being put through their paces

WELL over half a million people in England and Wales now hold a firearm certificate – a shotgun, rifle, air rifle or other firearm license – the highest in 30 years, according to latest Home Office figures.

Most of these license holders are sportsmen or women, who shoot clay pigeons or live quarry. An independent report by PACEC (Cambridge-based Public and Economic Corporate Consultants) shows that shooting is worth £2 billion a year to the UK economy. It accounts for almost ten per cent of all spending on outdoor recreation, supporting 74,000 full-time jobs and managing ten times more land for conservation than nature reserves.

If you are a member of the shooting fraternity or thinking about pursuing an interest in country sports, then a visit to the Lancashire Game & Country Festival this month is a must.

The festival, now in its fourth consecutive year, is set in 30 acres of stunning countryside in the beautiful Wyre village of Scorton. It is Lancashire’s only dedicated game fair – a showcase for all the county has to offer in country pursuits and rural living. Importantly, it gives visitors of all ages the opportunity to try their hand at the likes of clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing and archery among other traditional skills and to talk to experts for advice on kit, clubs and coaching.

Food plays a big part in the festivalFood plays a big part in the festival

Craig Whittingham, who along with dad Paul is the festival’s co-founder and co-organiser, said: ‘Country pursuits are part of our heritage and are enjoyed by people of all ages from all walks of life.

‘Whether you are an old hand or a beginner, it’s worth seeking advice to benefit from others’ experience. At the festival, Blackpool Sporting Clays will be running the clay pigeon line, and they will be encouraging visitors to share their passion for clay pigeon shooting, which is an Olympic sport. Visitors can have a go or they can take part in the competition, with some great prizes up for grabs.

‘We also have Hesketh Banks’ Longthorne Guns to give advice on choosing a gun, gun maintenance and obtaining a firearm license as well as experts representing other country sports. Longthorne will be bringing along a variety of guns and visitors will be able to try before they buy.’

Visitors are under no pressure to join in. Instead, they can enjoy the festival as a spectacle as its programme features multiple horse classes, including a new for this year side-saddle competition, gun dog scurries, terrier, lurcher and companion dog classes. There is also a birds of prey demonstration, rural craft exhibits and cookery demonstrations by game meat specialists Honeywells Farm Shop of Woodplumpton. Visitors can even treat the game festival as a shopping experience as there are stands selling everything from country clothing to pet products to cars.

Garstang’s Wyrebank will be hosting the reception for the festival’s VIP ticket holders, with a dedicated gourmet buffet lunch served in the VIP Marquee, while the Cartford Inn will bring its ever popular Champagne and Oyster Bar to the event to stand alongside other local food heroes championing the best of Lancashire’s home-grown and home-made produce.

Craig added: ‘In a nutshell, the Lancashire Game & Country Festival is about celebrating everything that is good about the countryside and showing that of all the places to live in the UK, there’s no better place than Lancashire.’

TOP GUN

More than 600,000 people shoot in the UK

Shooting providers invest £250million a year in protecting and improving the environment.

The number of days shooters spend on conservation work adds up to 16,000 full-time jobs.

From 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018, there were 157,581 firearm certificates issued, an increase of two per cent (2,623) compared with the previous year (154,958).

GETTING THERE

The Lancashire Game & Country Festival takes place at Scorton Showground, just minutes from Junction 32 or 33 of the M6 and directly off the A6.

VIP festival tickets are £35 each, including a gourmet lunch created especially for the festival by Wyrebank chefs and served in an exclusive marquee by the main show ring. Luncheon begins with a Prosecco reception and ends with tea and coffee.

General festival admission is £10 for adults and £7 for children aged 10 to 16 years with under-10s admitted free. Parking is also free and overnight camping is also available, with live entertainment on the Saturday night. For further information, visit www.lancashiregamefestival.co.uk

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