Britsh Falconry Fair

The recent Bank Holiday weekend saw a very unique event in the UK Raptor calendar, one which most falconers and raptor enthusiasts look forward to with relish - “The British Falconry & Raptor Fair”, of which the 17th running took place at Chetwynd Park in Newport, Shropshire.

The show is the ultimate flagship event of its kind in the falconry world, with specialist exhibitors attending from all over the world  The fair features continuous arena events on all aspects of falconry, plus major exhibitions by national countryside organisations such as the British Falconers Club, the Hawk Board and the Campaign for Falconry, and is also home to a fantastic Sporting and Wildlife Art Exhibition, which is well worth the visit.

Opening the event was Britain’s ‘First Lady of Falconry’, Jemima Parry-Jones. A woman who is no stranger to the event or to the British Falconry world, she was for many years the proprietor of the National Birds of Prey Centre in Gloucester until she left our shores in 2004 to pursue business interests in America. She has recently returned from the States and many agree that the British falconry scene will be all the better for it! In recognition, her friends and colleagues presented her with a beautiful crystal eagle which simply read, “Welcome back”, sentiments which we at S.O.S. are happy to endorse.

As well as the numerous flying displays given in the main arena at the Fair, there was a fantastic collection of raptors on the weathering grounds there.  Each year this display gets more and more impressive as additional species are featured - my favourite was a beautiful PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK, a raptor which is native to Eastern and Southern Africa and is a species you don’t often see outside of zoo collections in this country. Thanks, by the way, to the Central Falconry & Raptor Club who managed the weatherings so ably and assisted visitors with information and the taking of photographs when required.

As well as the live raptors on view, there was also a wonderful collection of raptor images & sculptures to be seen in the Falconry and Wildlife Art Marquee. Organised annually by Chris Christoforu, it features a superb mix of established and up and coming artistic talent which this year included the work of a wonderful sculptor by the name of Bill Prickett. If you would like to know more about Bill’s work please go to
www.billprickett.co.uk

Meanwhile, back in the main arena a selection of other highly visual entertainments took place, including the Knights of Arkley, a medieval performance troupe who recreated a wonderful Medieval Jousting Tournament and treated the crowd to a superb display of horsemanship and ancient fighting skills. For more information, visit
www.knightsofarkley.com

Finally, a mention should be made of all the trade stands at the event offering a wide range of falconry equipment - the choice was endless, the selection of items mind-boggling - everything from hoods, bells & gloves through to incubators, imprint tanks and four wheel drive vehicles - and the opportunity to compare products, quality & prices just something you can’t do easily on the internet.

The British Falconry & Raptor Fair truly is a wonderful event and a fantastic day out for anyone interested in Birds of Prey and Falconry.  It also provides a great opportunity to meet old friends, catch-up on the latest developments and make new friends and contacts (Grant and Ffyona Fergusson of Galloway Falconry - nice to meet you!) So, guys, see you all there - next year!