Rural Maine at its finest
This past weekend the Common Ground Country Fair celebrated its 34th year by welcoming thousands of visitors to its grassy fields in Unity, Maine. Over 700 exhibitors, demonstrators, speakers and artists came together during the three-day fair to support the local tradition and to â€œcelebrate rural living.â€
The event is the product of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), which works year-round with dedicated volunteers and fair participants to create a unique, memorable weekend filled with a variety of organic foods and produce, local crafts, demonstrations and more.
On MOFGAâ€™s website, the organization describes the fair as â€œan event like no other, that brings together so many people from so many walks of life, all in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine.â€
This yearâ€™s turnout was exceptional: although traffic was notoriously heavy and the fields for parking were aptly full, visitors persevered to experience this not-to-miss event that happens every year on the third weekend after Labor Day. In fact, the two-lane road leading to the fair had traffic inching forward in only one direction. Bikers, however, benefited from an easier commute and also received $2 off the steep $10 admission price.
Transportation issues aside, the fair itself was a sight to behold. Among the asphalt loop of stands, stalls and tents, one is almost dizzied by the numerous amount of products and opportunities available at the fair.
Food-lovers enjoyed typical fair food such as fried dough, ice cream and hamburgers alongside other less-expected items such as split-pea soup, chai tea, fresh-baked breads and more. MOFGA emphasized the organic and local quality of the food and remained dedicated to sustainable agriculture.
Some of the most popular food and beverage stands were those selling fresh blueberries, cheeses, smoothies, apple cider and desserts including pie-cones, honey buns and maple candies. Though the lines were intimidating, the wait was worthwhile for those wanting to experience the many delicious offerings of local, wholesome cuisine.
Additionally, the fair boasted livestock demonstrations as well as agricultural demonstrations that encouraged sustainable agricultural practices and strengthening rural communities. At the Poultry Barn one could see a lively display of feathers and fluttering, and demonstrations of plowing, mowing and more by various horses, mules and oxen. There was even an alpaca farm close to the fairgrounds, that recently welcomed a baby alpaca into its family.
While wings, hoofs and fur were the center of attention to some, one of the lively sections of the fair was the Folk Arts area. This part of the fair offered an unbelievable array of classes ranging from basket weaving, shelter building and hosting home funerals to toboggan and dogsled building and processing acorns into flour.
The Common Ground Fair is a well-loved melting pot: students from the Hill mingled with community residents, local artists and vendors, as well as a slew of people who came from outside of Maine just to visit the fair. This family friendly event has shown year after year, a thriving, energetic community of Mainers dedicated to celebrating the beauty of their stateâ€™s fruits and labors.
â€œI was really glad that my friends encouraged me to go because it was fun to see an event that is so much a part of Maineâ€”to see a lot of home-grown homemade products in a county fair atmosphere,â€ Anna Leavitt â€™12 said.