MORE than 900 exhibitors are descending on Blenheim Palace for last-minute preparations ahead of this weekend’s CLA Game Fair.
Food, games and crafts stallholders have been setting up pitches and marquees within the 181-acre showground at the Woodstock stately home this week.
There are currently more than 150 staff working on site, with the number due to rise to about 400 by tomorrow, when the event – which runs until Sunday – begins.
Interim director Tony Wall said: “The site is looking immaculate at the moment and we’re very pleased with how the build has gone.
“We’re still getting in a lot of contractors and exhibitors to build their stands, so it’s quite busy around the Woodstock area.
“It seems to work reasonably well because we have signs telling contractors to go through the Bladon entrance and exhibitors to use the Hensington Gate entrance, although every now and again we get a big lorry going through the wrong entrance.”
Mr Wall said drivers throughout Oxfordshire can expect to see variable message boards appearing as part of the traffic operation.
This also includes renting the Swinford Toll Bridge for the three days to remove the 5p drivers’ fees so congestion is eased, and using a helicopter and six cameras to monitor traffic.
He added: “The worst case scenario is if there’s an accident on the surrounding roads, which will have a huge impact on us, but we’ve got the ability to redirect traffic with the variable message boards.”
Key staff have been on the site since the start of June constructing it, and will be there until the end of August dismantling it.
Two pubs have been built – The Gunmakers and the Hare and Hounds – while 3km of fencing has been installed around the arena.
About 150,000 people are expected to attend across the three days of the fair, where they will be able to go shopping, watch demonstrations and take part in countryside activities.
There will be more than 4,000 campers, who are expected to begin arriving today.
GUNNING FOR NEW FANS OF SPORT
EQUESTRIAN sports condensed like ‘Twenty20 cricket’ will be on show at the CLA Game Fair.
Visitors will be able to watch showjumping, dressage and cross-country activities over six hours, rather than several days, during the express eventing competition.
The fair’s marketing manager Charlie Thomas said: “It’s like the equestrian version of Twenty20 cricket and it works very well.
“It’s been well-received in the equestrian world because a lot of riders like the idea of it because they’re done in one day. People will be able to get a really useful insight into the world of eventing.”
The 18 competitors will include Olympic silver medallist Lucinda Fredericks and Australian Olympic rider Sam Griffiths.
On Sunday in the main arena, dressage will begin at 10am, before cross-country at 1pm, showjumping at 3.15pm and a presentation at 4.15pm.
As part of a feast of countryside sport, there will be a polo match between a palace team – including the Earl of Sunderland, heir to Blenheim Palace – and the Gentleman’s Journal on Saturday at 6.30pm.
There will be stands for visitors to try clay pigeon shooting with help from experts, including seven-time world champion John Bidwell.
Mr Bidwell said: “It’s one of the biggest clay shoots in the world for the general public to take part.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone who wants to start shooting but doesn’t know much about the sport to have a go.”
- Ticket prices start at £25. For details visit gamefair.co.uk
Our top stories:
11:10am Monday 22nd December 2014
A LORRY containing egg boxes has caught fire on the A40 near Witney.
9:00am Monday 22nd December 2014
THERE is no longer anywhere cheap to live in Oxford, leaving average earners priced out of the market house prices up to 19 times the media salary, new figures show.
UPDATE: Queues along Abingdon Road as Westgate shopping centre car park fills up with Christmas shoppers
4:35pm Monday 22nd December 2014
A RUSH of shoppers to the Westgate Shopping Centre has caused traffic to queue down Abingdon Road in Oxford.
1:19pm Monday 22nd December 2014
THE A4130 is partially blocked in both directions by a car crash between Didcot and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.
12:10pm Monday 22nd December 2014
PEOPLE in Oxfordshire with cancer and rare diseases could get advanced diagnosis and treatment under a new genetics project.
6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014
December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?