One of the world’s biggest and best wildlife events will return to Rutland this month with a packed programme for visitors.
Thousands of tickets have already been sold for this year’s Birdfair, which will take place at Rutland Water on August 15, 16 and 17.
Tim Appleton, who helped launch the event in 1989, has travelled the world attending similar events. But he hears the word Rutland wherever he goes.
“It’s the county’s biggest event and the world’s biggest wildlife event,” said Tim.
“Since I started we have given more than £3.5m to conservation around the world.
“We have become the grandfather of all bird fairs.
“What happened in Rutland 26 years ago has snowballed around the world.”
This year’s event has a star-studded lineup of speakers, including famous faces such as Chris Packham, Simon King and Bill Oddie.
There will be 370 exhibitors from around the world during the weekend, with stands from 58 different countries.
There will be eight exhibition marquees, an art marquee and plenty of food and drink stalls for hungry visitors.
This year’s event comes just days after Prince Charles and Camilla visited Rutland Water Nature Reserve on their tour of the county.
Tim was lucky enough to be the Prince’s guide.
He said: “I took him around and showed him the preparations. He knows about Birdfair.”
Tim said the Prince would not be attending this year’s event, but added: “Who knows what might happen in the future.”
And although the event has a global appeal, Tim hopes to see plenty of Rutlanders there as well.
He said: “We love to see local people come along.”
Last year’s Birdfair raised £270,000, which was given to BirdLife International’s Flyaways project.
The money went towards the organisation’s work on migratory birds in the grasslands throughout the Americas.
This year’s event will support the organisation’s marine project.
Tickets and a full schedule for this year’s Birdfair are available at www.birdfair.org.uk.