As Land Rover enthusiasts, one of the most genuine ways to use our trucks is to take them somewhere remote for a little downtime. Whether that’s hunting, fishing, or camping – perhaps all of the above – the ability to get away from a hectic daily routine and reconnect with the natural world is its own reward. Showing the us all how to do this well has been the mission of the Orvis Game Fair and Country Sporting Weekend since its inception in 2007.
For more than a century, Orvis has been one of the most trusted outfitters for classic field sporting provisions. The Game Fair Weekend emerged as a way to introduce this tradition to new people and to connect existing enthusiasts with quality vendors ranging from bespoke shotguns to handmade clothing to dog trainers.
The Game Fair and Country Sporting Weekend originally took place only at Orvis’ Sandanona Shooting Grounds in Millbrook, New York, but last year the company added a second event at Pursell Farms outside of Birmingham, Alabama, to serve enthusiasts in the southeast as well.
When we dropped in on the New York event in late September, the grounds were a flurry of activity from the moment we arrived. A fleet of new Land Rovers from the Land Rover Experience driving school in Vermont confirmed we had found the entry gate. Freshly muddied Range Rovers and Discoverys emerged from an off-road course in the woods.
From just beyond the entry, the occasional report of shotgun fire broke the silence in a nearby clearing. Here, Orvis instructors were guiding novice handlers on the ways of clay shooting, helping them with every step from positioning the gun to tracking the bird.
The main event was a tent city of vendors displaying a variety of high-end wares and services in support of the field sport lifestyle. With a focus on largely hand-made products, each tent was an impressive display of traditional craftsmanship and an attention to function and detail. The goods ranged from traditional tweeds to bespoke hunting rifles, many of the items locally made.
Naturally, Orvis had its own tent, but the star of the show field was undoubtedly the Orvis/Barbour Defender 90. Fully restored by East Coast Defender, the hardtop station wagon was finished in a fresh coat of Barbour’s signature field green and featured an interior trimmed in the company’s trademark plaid cloth. (A full story on the vehicle will be featured in an upcoming issue of Alloy+Grit magazine.)
Free of charge to the public, the next Orvis Game Fair and Country Sporting Weekend will take place at Pursell Farm on November 4-5, 2018.