THE CLA Game Fair will give a £13m boost to Oxfordshire’s economy, it has been estimated.
The fair takes place at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, from July 22 to 24 and features exhibitions and displays of countryside activities.About 140,000 people are expected to attend.
The last Game Fair at Blenheim, in 2008, generated about £13m for Oxfordshire’s economy, according to a study by academics at Bournemouth University.
Woodstock businesses will have eight of the 1,000 stalls at the fair, and regular buses will transport visitors to and from the town in the evenings. Game Fair organisers have also promoted Woodstock online and in literature.
Chris Baylis, chairman of business group Wake up to Woodstock, said: “It is a great boost for the profile of Woodstock and for the wider economy.”
He said the event would “put the spotlight” on the town and help businesses, particularly hotels and restaurants.
Mr Baylis, who owns The Real Wood Furniture Company, added: “The Game Fair organisers have bent over backwards to make it work for Woodstock.”
Fair director of marketing and show development Fiona Eastman said: “It is high up on our agenda to ensure Woodstock has a successful summer.
“There is going to be a lot of extra trade.”
Michael Jackson, owner of Woodstock Arts and Antiques, said: “It must have a positive impact, with those thousands of people arriving.
“I would be very surprised if, when it is all finished, my sales have not been substantially increased.”
Alex Taylor-Watts, owner of photography company Willow and Pea Portraits, will have a stall on the Game Fair site.
She said: “We are going to get a lot of passing trade.
“The fair is only a positive thing – it will bring a lot of trade to restaurants and shops, and there will be a huge amount of footfall.”
Paul Hageman, of guest house Hope House, said: “As soon as it gets announced, I get phone calls and we are fully booked.
“It is probably the best long weekend of the year for us.”
David Sykes, who runs The Kings Arms hotel with his wife Sara, said: “We were fully booked straight away from the people who stayed with us last time.”
The Game Fair caused traffic chaos when it was last held, but organisers have put in a range of measures to stop it from happening again.
These include taking over the Swinford Toll Bridge, near Eynsham, for the three days to avoid drivers having to pay tolls, a helicopter to monitor traffic, changing road markings and setting up extra car parks.
Mr Baylis said: “I do not think the Game Fair organisers could have done any more than they have with their traffic plans to try to make Woodstock accessible and keep retail businesses and residents happy.”