CLA Game Fair closes its doors - for now
Extraordinarily wet weather conditions for weeks this summer have brought enormous pressure to bear over the past week on the Country Land & Business Association and their showpiece event, the CLA Game Fair. In the wake of the cancellation of other big country shows this summer, including the Great Yorkshire Show this week and the Scottish Game Fair and Suffolk Show last month, and with heavy rain forecast tomorrow and next week, for the first time now the Belvoir Castle site's gates have been closed - or at least entrance to exhibitors working flat out on the build-up, suspended.
With its usually vibrant Fisherman's Row thronged with exhibitors, tackle manufacturers and destination fishing specialists, and its famous showpiece fly-casting competitions, the CLA Game Fair is a big favourite with UK fly-fishers but now the chances of the three-day event being held at all a week tomorrow have taken a big hit.
With the cancellation of the Great Yorkshire Show this week continuing a desperate trend and with heavy rain forecast tomorrow, an announcement on the official Game Fair website shortly after 10am this morning has left the event, expected to attract some 200,000 people, teetering on the brink:
'The Exhibitor entrance to the site has been suspended this morning due to ground conditions. Conditions are being monitored closely and we are hoping for a dry day. Updated 12th July 10am. All further information will be posted here.'
Exhibitors, organisers and Fair-goers have been fearing the worst now for days, and pouring out their individual thoughts and opinions on the Game Fair website comment board and blog. With 90 posts going up yesterday, mostly from distressed stall holders worried about the financial hit of cancelling at the last minute, should it come to this. And it's particularly hard on many of these exhibitors who have had a desperate show-going summer so far and were hanging everything on a good CLA to save their season.
One good point made however was that the terms of Health and Safety insurance can only be done on last minute terms, so leaving the CLA with no option but to delay any final announcement on whether the Fair can definitely go ahead or not to the last minute. Meanwhile positive hopes have been expressed of the Belvoir Castle site's ability to hold up to the deluge (although whether the car parks can - the Achilles heel of the big rural shows - is another matter).
So: a grimly stoic waiting game - now in its end-game phase - continues.
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