Thousands of people were expecting a day of fun and games at Weston Park Country Fair over the weekend of September 17-18, but many said they were disappointed by what they found.
The popular fair at Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border, attracts people who are keen to partake in a programme of country pursuits and entertainment, but this year, complaints have flooded in from those who had attended on previous occasions.
Formerly known as the Midland Game Fair, the event was last held in 2018 but relaunched this year under its new guise. Attractions included falconers, the Knights of Middle England and Squibb Freestyle motorcycle stunt show.
However, underneath the official Weston Park Country Fair Facebook post are multiple comments from underwhelmed attendees.
Helen Day, a visitor for 24 years, said she will not be going back: "We were very disappointed, I don't think we will return... We did the whole of it in two hours. We spoke to stall holders and some of the public who also said the same. It is not like it was in the past. Sorry, we will definitely not be returning."
Another visitor, Tom Anderson, said: "I can't believe how awful it was, it was a fraction of the show it used to be. Just food stands and snack wagons. At least there were still lurchers/terriers, gundog and shooting. So glad I got a free ticket. Still bitter I travelled three hours to get there, but if I had to pay £25 to get in I'd be fuming."
Kev Hughes commented on the post: "I wasted 6 hours driving there and back, spending £50 on two tickets. We arrived at 9.30am and left at at 11.30am having walked around three times. At the proper gamefair you needed 2 days to get around properly. Where has airgun row gone and all the optics and shotgun sales? The death of a once-great show, I certainly won't waste my money next year."
Facebook user Tanya Bishop preferred last year's event: "Disappointing compared to previous years, no air-gun row, only one gun shop. I didn't notice the fishing, and it needed more competitive food prices. Only noticed the dog competitions and shows when were about to leave, so had a look at those before we left, perhaps there could have been better signage?
"Having said all that it was a nice few hours, if this was someone's first time visiting they would not have compared it to previous shows."
Another user, Jon Rutland, says he regularly supports local events but there was room for improvement at this one. In a message to the organisers, he wrote: "Western Park country fair organisers, the best thing you could do is speak to the team that organise Chatsworth country fair and get advice from them on how to improve.
"The biggest mistakes you made this weekend is advertising stuff that wasn't there and using photos from past events that misled people into thinking it was something different to what you actually produced.
"I will be back next year as I've always tried to support my local shows, but you need to take advice and improve massively on this year's."
Facebook user Lindsey Cooper wrote: "We only stayed around three hours, if that. Big lack of the usual stall holders. No Joules, Barbour and more."
Others who attended were not happy about the price of the tickets, in that they were 'too much for what was there'.
One comment on the post, by Timothy Powell, read: "We came on Saturday. I was quite disappointed. Ticket prices were way too much for what was there. We did enjoy our time there."
Facebook user Becky Conlon agreed: "The tickets were very expensive for what was on offer. Don’t think we’ll visit again. It was a nice couple of hours though."
Ciaran Patrick and his dogs were underwhelmed: "Had a nice day out and enjoyed the shows in the main arena, however like many people have said it was far too expensive for what it now is. There were less interactive exhibits and less for the actual dogs to enjoy. Needs to be rearranged slightly so the music stage isn't put in the back end of beyond with the food and drink being more reasonably priced please.
Another visitor, Sophie Strawson, travelled for two hours to go to the fair, and was left disappointed: "I was expecting a lot more, a bigger set up, more to see and get involved with. I travelled two hours on my own and unfortunately left after three hours, after walking round the ground twice."
In a statement organisers thanks visitors for their support and feedback.
"We appreciate that the former Midland Game Fair has been missed by many, our aim is to develop the Weston Park Country Fair based on the expectations of our visitors, exhibitors and contributors alike," they said.
"We would therefore welcome any feedback and thoughts on what you would like to see more of at the event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to integrating all your thoughts and ideas into our future events.
"We are all faced with challenging times coupled with a long period of absence of a countryside event at Weston Park. We are on Year 1 and are excited for the future of the Weston Park Country Fair moving forwards.
"A foundation has been created. We will strive to deliver the comprehensive event that caters for all walks of life, for passionate countryside participants, families and friends."