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Midland 2004 set to be a stunner

This year’s Midland Game and Country Sports Fair looks set to be another stunning success. Last year the 21 st annual Midland saw a record crowd of 72,000 people pour through the gates of Weston Park in Shropshire over the two days and this year’s event is going to attract an even larger crowd.

One of the main factors for the increasing interest in the Midland, which has metamorphosed over the years from a small family affair to become one of the single most important events in the countryside calendar, is the Mitsubishi World Series clay pigeon shooting championship.

This £75,000 competition has already attracted more than 2,000 shooters from all over the UK and the Continent. And the finals, being staged at the Midland, will see the Champion walk away with a brand new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE 4x4 vehicle worth £18,749 OTR.

It is the biggest prize and prize fund ever offered in a clay pigeon shooting competition and it is fitting that the finals will be shot out on the World’s largest sporting clay line at Weston Park. That record will be claimed when competition director Terry Hale adds the World Series shooting line to the already enormous 2.4 miles of shooting at the Midland where this year the prizes for the event’s own competitions will top £20,000, including a prized Perazzi shotgun worth nearly £5,000.

World Champion Richard Faulds heads the pack of 60 shooters into the finals. He scored a straight 40 at the Southern Counties Game and Country Sports Fair at the end of May and leads 30 ‘professional’ shots and 30 amateurs competing for the Mitsubishi World Series Crown. There are ten finalists aged 15 and under in the final 60, and two women ˆ Rebecca Sealey and Rachel Harding - also made the grade in a bid to shoot-off for the 4x4.

This year the Midland will attract around 2,000 shooters to compete for the outstanding prize fund at Weston Park, and a grandstand is being erected for the large crowd to watch the finalists in the World Series. Last year the Midland offered a staggering 14 different arenas around the showground with displays and demonstrations from across the fieldsports spectrum, and this year that number is rising to 18 with the most notable addition being the new Equestrian Arena.

As always the Midland Game Fair Main Arena will be the focal point for many visitors with the top demonstrators and performers in the falconry, sheepdog, equestrian, coursing and angling worlds. Commentator John Lamb, whose dulcet tones grace many a main arena across the continent, describes the Arenas at the Midland as ‘the best to be found anywhere in Europe’

Countryman Fairs ltd has secured the excellent musical services of the Band of the Welsh Guards, which will perform in the main arena over both days.

With an even bigger gate of more than 85,000 people expected, campers will need to pre-book their spots and this can be done by calling the ticket hotline on 08700 115007. As always pre-book tickets can be secured through the hotline with discounts of at least 10% on offer.

Ian Harford, Chief Executive of Countryman Fairs commented: ‘This year has been a big one for us all. Our three shows, the Gamekeeper and Countryman, Southern Counties and Sussex, broke all previous attendance records for the events. The feedback from trade and visitors alike has been extremely positive, with many making comparisons with mach larger events such as the Midland Game Fair and CLA.’

‘This tells me that the Midland is going to be a stunner this year. The Midland Game Fair still retains the atmosphere and energy that makes it the pinnacle of the fieldsports calendar, but it is much, much bigger. Last year we broke the record for all previous attendances with 72,000 through the gates of Weston Park. There is talk of us breaking the genuine 100,000 barrier within three years. I think we will be pushing that total in September.’

Ian heads the youngest-ever organisational team for such a huge event at the age of 28.

The average age of the management team is 26. There is a distinct feeling in the air that the future of countryside pursuits in Britain is safe in their hands.

That future begins on September 18th and 19th at Weston Park, Weston Under Lizard, Shropshire