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Getting ready for the weekend's East Anglian Game and Country Fair at the Norfolk Showground. Alex Talbot sets up the pole climbing for the climbers and cutters competition, where climbers rings the bells when they reach the top. Picture: Denise Bradley
By CHRIS HILL, Rural affairs correspondent
Friday, April 27, 2012
Final preparations will continue today to welcome an anticipated crowd of 40,000 visitors to the East Anglian Game and Country Fair this weekend.
Despite the April downpours, organisers say work is well under way to erect the marquees, stands and arenas which will host a diverse range of countryside activities at the Norfolk Showground in Costessey.
The event mixes traditional pursuits like fishing, falconry and marksmanship with modern thrill-a-minute spectacles like mountain bike stunt displays and horse-boarding, where racers on skateboards are pulled along by horse-riders.
Yesterday, work was being completed on the members’ marquee, the forestry arena, and the countryside arena where mountain boarding and BMX skills will be on show.
Two dog arenas were also constructed – one for agility and one for jumping – where visitors will be able to enter their own pets for competition on Sunday.
Many of the 300 stall-holders, local producers and traders exhibiting at the show have also begun to set up their stands.
Andy Grand, who runs the event alongside his wife Tracey, said although the rainy spring weather proved a challenge to the set-up team, the layout of the venue meant visitors would not be greeted with muddy walkways.
“It has been an unusual one,” he said. “I think everyone is aware that it has been raining for three weeks now, but fortunately because of the way the showground has been designed the public will hardly be aware that it has been raining at all.
“The traders here so far have been pleasantly surprised. At other shows everything turns to slop when it gets wet, but here we have got the benefit of the hard roadway system which means we can do the whole thing without touching the grass which the public use.”
Mr Grand said the event takes almost 12 months to plan, with preparations beginning within weeks of the previous year’s fair.
“I really look forward to getting on site,” he said. “That’s what it is all about. When the public get here they can expect a really good value day out for all the family.”
Event highlights include the UK Polocrosse Association, the British Racing School and the return of six-times world clay shooting champion John Bidwell who will be performing his off-the-hip shooting demonstration in the main arena.
There will also be a gardening and conservation area, an EcoVillage dedicated to promoting green living, and a country kitchen with cookery workshops run by celebrity chefs.
The eclectic array of attractions continues with bushcraft, pigeon-plucking, owl displays, horse-logging, sheep racing, a sheepdog and duck display and the West Norfolk Hunt’s horse and hound parade.
The 2012 East Anglian Game and Country Fair, run in association with the EDP, will take place on April 28-29. Gates open at 10am. For more information, visit www.ukgamefair.co.uk.