A taste of country life

Simon ParkinThis weekend will see the country come to the city for the now annual rustic extravaganza that is the East Anglia Game and Country Fair. SIMON PARKIN previews what to expect.Simon Parkin

This weekend will see the country come to the city for the now annual rustic extravaganza that is the East Anglia Game and Country Fair. SIMON PARKIN previews what to expect.

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The country comes to the city this weekend with the seventh annual two-day rural-life jamboree that is the East Anglia Game and Country Fair.

Last year saw record crowds of over 40,000, and organisers will be hoping that the weather holds this weekend to draw in the family crowds to enjoy a mixture of craftsmanship, sport and wildlife in a celebration of the countryside.

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The range of activities on offer increases each year, with plenty to entertain all ages across the vast open air site. Traditional rural skills such as sheep shearing, gun dog displays, falconry, clay pigeon shooting and horse logging are just a few of the popular events along with the opportunity to get up close and personal with wildlife.

Sure to draw the crowds is the Off the Hip Shooting exhibition by John Bidwell, five times World Clay Pigeon Shooting Champion, with his amazing display from an expert shot. The High Lodge team will also be hosting the clay shoot area where a 40 bird re-entry competition will take place over the two days with men's, ladies and junior's sections, so if you have never had a go at clay shooting or would like some tuition now's your chance. Entry is open to all.

If fishing is more your thing, new this year will be a display by World Fly Casting Champion Hywel Morgan, who delivers a highly informative and entertaining demonstration, showing his remarkable talent for multi-rod casting.

The show offers an array of other competitions and 'have a go' areas to take part in from archery to gun dog scurrys and cast a line with the Salmon & Trout Association.

The forestry area will be hosting the East Anglian cutters and climbers competitions, with lumberjacks entertaining audiences with an exciting show of strength, skill and rustic humour.

Once again this year there will be demonstrations by 'Horse Whisperer' Gary Witheford.

They'll also be the return of the antics of the border collies and the comical daring of the Indian runner ducks and extremely popular sheep show.

For the little ones there's plenty of chances to get up close with fascinating animals in the Animal Kingdom, including reindeers, rabbits, goats, alpacas and otters. They'll also be able to have a go at riding a donkey, holding an owl, racing a ferret or watching a sheep being sheared.

For those slightly older there will be the Little Rovers course, including climbing walls, bungee trampolines, slides and simulators as well as the junior clay shooting competition.

Spokeswoman Didi Fenwick said: 'Last year was one of the busiest year that we've ever had and we had some very positive feedback. We've a lot of new areas with animals that are very popular. There's always a huge crowd around there the children, really, really love it. has a real family atmosphere and it is the start of people really enjoying their summer.

The weekend is particularly popular with dog owners, breeders and enthusiasts, with the gun dog scurry with the Mid-Norfolk Gun Dog Club, dog agility and jumping competitions, the ever popular terrier racing (open to all breeds) and terrier and lurcher show on the Sunday starting at 11am.

This will be a qualifier for all major championships as well as their own East Anglian Championship and large keep trophies for winners on the day.

For dog-lovers, the popular recent addition to the programme has been the Dock Dogs displays, with teams allocated 90 seconds to get their dogs down on to the dock and leaping into the water.

The HM Prison Norwich drug dogs will also return, doing displays to demonstrate the great work they do stiffing out criminals.

After huge success last year, the site will again host the Food Village, with a cookery theatre that will see demonstrations and master classes by numerous Norfolk chefs and cookery writers.

t Norfolk Showground, Saturday/Sunday, April 24/25, 0871 2301099, www.ukgamefair.co.uk

t Tickets on the gate are �30 family (2 adults, 3 children), �12 adults, �2 children, under-5s free. Membership tickets are also available for more information call 01263 735 828.