The Festival of Hunting in Peterborough (19 July) enjoyed record attendance this year, proving that the sport is more popular than ever. Around 2,000 people supported the Festival, dubbed to be the Ascot of hunting.
“The Festival of Hunting has once again been extremely well supported and has certainly captured the enthusiasm of the hunting community,” said Andrew Mercer, Secretary of the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society.
More than 1,500 hounds representing 101 packs competed at this year’s Festival – a figure up on last year. Tickets sales before and during the event also increased since last year.
“Yesterday at the Festival the number of different hounds on display, as well as the large number of hunts provided a celebratory atmosphere in the sweltering heat of a way of life which is so integral to the British countryside,” said a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance. “The strong show of support is an indication of the hunting community’s continuing resolve to show their opposition to the hunting ban.”
Bassets, mink, fell, Old English, Welsh, drag and bloodhounds plus foxhound, beagle and harrier packs were all competing and visitors enjoyed displays of greyhounds, whippets, salukis, deerhounds, lurchers and the annual Inter Hunt Team Relay. More than 60 teams of riders from hunts across the country raced in front of a very enthusiastic crowd.
This year the extreme temperatures prompted organisers to permit hunt staff to wear white cotton coats instead of the traditional woollen ones for the first time since 1946.
Next year’s Festival of Hunting will take place on Wednesday 18 July at the East of England Showground and is organised by the East of England Agricultural Society, in conjunction with the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society and the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles. For further information on next year’s event (tel: 01635 41320).