Shane’s Castle Game Fair and Fine Food Festival, Antrim, 25 & 26 June 2016.
Ireland’s premier celebration of country sports, pursuits and lifestyles was launched this week by Downpatrick-man Albert Titterington amidst a blaze of Summer sunshine.
When he opens the Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival over the action-packed weekend of 25 and 26 June at Shane’s Castle, Albert will be marking his 59th Game Fair over 38 years. It is a record which he believes makes him the most experienced Game Fair Director in all of Europe, and he’s not done yet!
When the gates swing closed after the Shanes Castle event, Albert will instantly switch his focus to preparation for his next show at Birr Castle over 25 and 26 August, before launching into preparations for the Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival over 24 and 25 September at Montalto Estate.
It’s a demanding schedule which you might think would test enthusiasm and endurance, but Albert is driven by an absolute and lifelong passion for all things country and he is committed to sharing that with the widest possible audience.
He said: “Since I was a child I have been passionate about countrysports and I consider myself privileged to have been able to build my career around that interest and, indeed, around my love of history. The combination has proved extremely successful and Great Game Fairs of Ireland now dominates its sector, supported by Irish Countrysports & Country Life magazine in print and online which, I am proud to say, is Ireland’s most read countrysports publication.
“I see all around me an increasing interest in this sector with people more eager than ever before to get up close and personal with our rich rural sporting traditions and also wanting to find out more about the times, circumstances and history which have shaped us.
“Here in County Down support for huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ is on the increase and many of our local clubs are taking an innovative lead in encouraging young people to experience these great sports for themselves. That’s something which I continue to reflect in all my Game Fairs, with numerous ‘have a go’ opportunities for children and young people.
“In my experience a fondness for fishing, a love of horse-riding or a desire to train and work with dogs is often the foundation for a lifetime’s appreciation of our ‘Great Outdoors’. That brings not only personal benefits to physical and mental well-being, but also benefits to the wider community as countrysports enthusiasts are, famously, committed custodians of our natural environment.”
This year visitors and local families alike will flock to stunning location at Shane’s Castle, Birr Castle, then Montalto Estate near Ballynahinch to enjoy events which are crammed with attractions, from battle re-enactments, angling competitions, air rifle shooting, clay pigeons, falconry, archery, horses and hounds and medieval jousting, to living history, live cookery demonstrations plus a wide range of retailers showcasing their country wares.
Each of the shows has its own unique personality and creative local programme but all aim to highlight Ireland’s diverse rural traditions in sport, culture, cuisine … and craic. Importantly, each of the three shows provides an important boost to its local economy thanks to the influx of exhibitors and competitors as well as show visitors. That positive impact has earned them the backing of Tourism Northern Ireland and their respective local authorities which, in conjunction with private sector funding, means that major new attractions and facilities can be added annually and admission charges can be kept at family-friendly levels.
This year for the first time the Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival at Shanes Castle has brought on board Northern Ireland’s award-winning home improvement company, Betterhomes Group, as title sponsor.
Speaking at the launch, Betterhomes Group Partner, Gary Sinnerton, said: “We’re proud to be award winners in our own sector and to associate ourselves with award winners in another arena: that of countrysports and events.
“We undertake a considerable amount of business right across Northern Ireland so were delighted to have the opportunity to underline our commitment to the local community by supporting one of its biggest annual ‘country comes to town’ attractions. Our presence at Shanes Castle in June will also allow us to present our products and services to a diverse range of visitors.
“Betterhomes Group offers a vast array of products to add comfort and value to homes in both town and country including, external doors, windows, kitchens, bathrooms, conservatories and sunrooms. The variety of our work is immense, from state of the art modernity to traditional country style, but whatever the customer choice, all our work is underpinned by traditional craftsmanship. That quality ethos sits very happily with the Irish Game Fair which is always one of the most exciting and action-packed ‘days out’ for the whole family.”
The Irish Game Fair and Fine Food Festival is supported by TourismNI and Antrim & Newtownabbey Council and is part of the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016.