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Thousands flock to major celebration of Welsh country life

Thousands of countryside lovers will be flocking to North Wales for a flagship festival of rural pursuits next weekend.

The second annual Welsh Game Fair will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, with the Faenol Estate on the outskirts of Bangor providing a spectacular backdrop overlooking the Menai Strait.

Last year’s inaugural event attracted 10,000 people from North Wales and all over the UK and the organisers are hoping to double that number this time.

As well as celebrating country life, it’s expected it will create a major boost for the North Wales economy with record-breaking sales of £12 million being forecast.

The show, organised in association with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, will cover everything from axemen to conservation, shooting and wildlife, as well as gun dogs and fishing.

A new campaign will be launched at the event to get lean, high protein game meat on the menu in Welsh hospitals and schools.

Organisers say venison, pheasant, duck and rabbit are cheaper, healthy options that should be embraced by NHS and school caterers

They want to see game meat given equal billing to more regularly used staples like chicken, beef and lamb.

Meanwhile, ex-world champion angler Hywel Morgan will be pressing the case for doctors in Wales to be able to prescribe angling instead of anti-depressants.

Hywel, who will be in charge of the Angling section at the show and hosting the UK Casting Championships, wants to persuade NHS Wales that an afternoon spent by the riverside can be better for mental health than popping pills.

Top chef Cai ap Bryn, a native of Llan Ffestiniog, will be tantalising taste buds at the pop up Cwtch Restaurant where “world class” produce from North Wales will be front and centre.

He’ll be cooking Welsh Lamb Argentine-style over an open fire and Venison with Chimichurri, a South American sauce of parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper and red wine vinegar.

Bangor-born Cai will be teaming with celebrity farmer, influencer and TV personality Gareth Wyn Jones, a star of the television series, The Family Farm who farms at Ty’n Llwyfan in the foothills of the Carneddau Range above Llanfairfechan, in Conwy.

Sponsored by the Association of Meat Suppliers, Gareth is supplying the lamb for the asado and will also be the official mine host of the restaurant, as well as barbecuing some squirrel burgers which hit the national headlines after TV presenter Richard Madeley ate one live on Good Morning Britain.

Other suppliers include Wales’s favourite butcher, Edwards of Conwy, and the organic Rhug Estate near Corwen in Denbighshire.

There is a mouth-watering programme of activities over two days at the famous estate which hosted the Royal Family for the Investiture of King Charles as Prince of Wales at nearby Caernarfon in 1969.

At the heart of the event is the main arena which will stage a rolling programme of events and displays including demonstrations by the Clwyd Axemen and wildfowler Chris Green, the Cornish Countryman, and teams of spaniels and retrievers battling it out in the Four Nations International.

Countryside issues of the day will be addressed in the Countryside Conversations Theatre while there’s also the chance to get hands-on at a range of rural activities including archery, fishing, airgun shooting, clay shooting and gundog handling and learn how to survive in the wild with bushcraft master Huw Jones of Ynys Twca.

As well as having an exhibition stand at the show, the Carneddau Mountain Pony Society will give a twice-daily demonstration in the main arena to show visitors how versatile and easy-going the diminutive ponies are.

The event is also an important fund-raiser for countryside charity the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust – a 92-year-old charity that conducts vital research into Wales’s most vulnerable species and a major retail event with 150 stands including major clothing and equipment brands alongside small independent retailers and artisans.

James Gower, chief executive of Stable Events which organises the show, alongside The Game Fair and the Scottish Game Fair, said: “Our aim is to celebrate everything that is best about the countryside and rural pursuits, including the wider benefits of conservation and field sports.

“We’ll have gundogs, clay shooting, archery, fishing, food and falconry – not to mention the amazing shopping at the wide range of stalls.

“Over the two days we have a jam-packed itinerary of displays, demonstrations,  have-a-go attractions and exhibitors.”

The event is open each day from 9am to 5.30pm with free parking and children under eight admitted free.