GREAT Game Fairs
of Ireland celebrat-
ed its ruby an-niversary in dazz-
ling style last month at Shane’s Castle, with soaring temperatures and sunshine adding ex-
tra sparkle to a week-end packed with countrysp-orts, pursuits, entertain-ment and activities.
Setting the seal on ruby anniversary celebrations, the show set new records, with trade stands breaking the 200 barrier, exhibitor tentage up by 25 per cent; food stands by 25 per cent and competitors by around 20 per cent. Drawn by the packed programme at the 2018 event, attendance was up by just under 17 per cent, with much of that increase made up of festival fans from the Republic of Ireland and further afield.
Albert Titterington, fo-
under and Director of Great Game Fairs of Ireland, was naturally de-lighted with the success of the annual show. He said: “We were thrilled at the response to our all-Ireland approach this year and delighted to see that the hard work which is put in by so many individuals and organisations was rewarded on every front.
“It was a genuine pl-easure to welcome so many visitors to the show, particularly when we dr-aw such valued support from TourismNI and An-trim & Newtownabbey Borough Council. Those organisations fully rec-ognise the standing of the Game Fair as a key visitor attraction within Ireland and, like ourselves, they see the potential for it to develop still further in the future.”
Adding to the good wishes which launched this year’s show at Shane’s Castle was an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, sponsored by
Jim Shannon MP, well known as a champion of countrysports and herit-age.
The Motion stated: “That this House congratulates the Great Game Fairs of Ireland on its 40th anniversary event and … notes the tremendous positive impact that co-untry sports make to the local economy and environment; and thanks all of those who work so hard to preserve and enhance country sports and the environment.” It speedily attracted 12 signatures from Members of Parliament representing Scottish and English as well as Northern Irish constituencies and parties.
Albert commented: “That was a lovely and much appreciated gesture and it was heartening to see that, at the very highest level, our efforts to preserve and promote all things rural is appreciated.
“For me personally many of the show highlights came from friendships made and cemented at the show over the decades.
“Best moments of 2018
show? For me, the spirit of the show was embodied in the typical generosity of country people.
“When the old dog ‘Scooby’ won the headline Master McGrath Challenge for the second year in
succession, having come second in each of the previous two years, his
owner immediately donat-ed the prize cheque to the Northern Ireland Child-ren’s Hospice.
“This was followed by spaniel handlers’ prize ch-
eques coming back to me almost as quickly as I could present them and the organising club for Terriers & Lurchers making a handsome don-ation, as everyone got behind this great local charity.”