Traders who booked stands at this year’s cancelled Game Fair have formed an action group to contest the organisers’ refusal to refund any of their costs.

A waterlogged site caused the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to cancel the event that was due to take place at Harewood House near Leeds at the end of last month.

The CLA has refunded ticket holders but is refusing any reimbursement for over 1,000 stallholders. This loss, combined with the loss of earnings from the event, may mean financial ruin for some smaller businesses.

Wesley Stanton of Blaze Publishing is campaigning to raise a legal fund via his website “Game Fair Action Group — we want our money!”. He has donated £2,000 and is asking others to join him.

Three days after setting up the fund, Stanton said: “I’ve been contacted by more than 200 people and 34 businesses have made donations.”

Sporting artist Daniel Crane planned to exhibit work at the fair. He told H&H that in his experience “most smaller shows in this situation refund at least a percentage of the amount paid for a stand.”

Mr Crane paid about £3,000 for his stand. He and fellow stallholders have been offered a 20% discount on next year’s stand — not including extras such as electricity.

Many smaller exhibitors feel cheated by the CLA’s response, but are unwilling to speak out for fear of being blacklisted next year.

CLA director general Adrian Gane said: “We would have nothing in reserve to run next year’s Game Fair if we reimbursed all of this year’s stallholders.” He added: “We do not take out insurance for cancellation — which would cost £100,000 per year — because it’s cheaper for us in the long run to take a loss.”

Blenheim Horse Trials (6-9 September) is to add a new country sports village to give businesses a further trading opportunity.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (16 August, ’07)