Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Urge For Going: Common Country Ground Fair 2010

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

Friday, first day of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine

The day was misty and somewhat chilly, which was just fine by us. We always walk in, a little overwhelmed at first by all the beautiful things in the farm market area. We took out the fair book and looked it through and the kids went in search of friends at the Youth Enterprise Zone (YEZ Tent) and Alex and I planned to go to a bee keeping talk, but not before a chat with my Dad and Tim who caught us up on their fall doings. One of the best parts of the fair is all the reunions that happen each day, with friends and family.

common ground fair 2010 pumpkin
apple buckets
golden beets

At the YEZ Tent, we caught up to the kids and more friends and we admired all the gorgeous goods offered for sale by young people. I purchased a pair of lovely beaded, aqua blue earrings.

youth enterprise zone
crane earrings
beaded earrings
the soap guy & balm girl

Our friend, Sydney showed off her mad hooping skills. She made it look so easy.

doesn't seem possible
she makes it look easy

Some culinary wizard in the YEZ Tent made these Needhams that were unbelievably good, rich but not overly sweet. The fair is very much about food and the first thing friends ask each other when crossing paths is what have you eaten so far? and then we compare notes, of course and give directions if needed.

this needham was scrumptious

We had lots more catching up with old friends, and with new friends as well.

meeting up
new friends
new friends
a meeting of friends
molly and her babes
old friends

The kids, all happy to have found their fair tribe, took off together to explore the fair and meet on the grass sledding hill.

at the sledding hill
friends on the hill

Alex and I grabbed the other's hand and we took off to see about wine making, which turned out to be a really wonderful demo. We later stopped for some chai and our favorite and most delicious crab rolls.

this duo rocked the wine making demo
the solar cafe
chai goodness
warm chai for my love
so delicious

The rest of the day we saw the kids for minutes at a time and Alex and I explored the fair's treasures at a leisurely pace. We noticed that the fair was busy for a misty Friday, too, which just means Mofga is successfully getting the word out about organic and sustainable living, which is excellent.

Friday, at the fair
eye candy
hand dyed
maple kitchen
we wants it
folk art
fedco seeds
apple varieties
enormous apple
cover crop

We also appreciated the many benches, as well as picnic tables that dot the fairgrounds now as they were perfect for getting off tired feet or grabbing a bite to eat with the family.

putting my feet up
first pie cone of the fair

As the day came to a close, we ate some more and said good-bye to friends. Some we would see again Saturday and others were headed home. Alex and I had dinner from Tide Mill Farm, which consisted of BBQ chicken drumsticks and raw milk. Oh and a Pie Cone, naturally. I think each day at the fair ended with a Pie Cone.

tide mill farm raw milk
mmm, pumpkin cheescake


The day was bright, beautiful, sunny and it was warm; a little too warm for a fall harvest fair, for we of Celtic heritage, but so it was. After a good night's sleep, we got an early start and made it ahead of the line of cars also going to the fair. We visited the Wednesday Spinners, saw the bike parade and visited with some of the animals, who were mostly sleeping off their second breakfast and the morning's heat.

beautiful carrots
wednesday spinners
spinning wheel
parker, in the bike parade
oh, that aqua yarn
yarn rainbow

A favorite part of the fair is meeting with the animals and the people who care for them. The farmers are always willing to answer questions and the animals, large and small, are usually willing enough to have their photo taken, if not also have their head or chin scratched.

the rabbit barn
sleepy goats
nosy ram
sweet bunny
pink ears and nose
hay on his face
sweet faced goat enjoying a scratch

With some of the animals, it's easy to believe they are the ones watching you and smirking. It seems some are just plain old silly.

yes, you
stupid goat tricks
grins all around
llama smiles

Yet with some of the other animals, it's a wonder to watch them at work and to admire their strength and skill.

log pull
the horses
horse powered

Saturday is almost always the biggest day of the fair, attracting the most visitors and this year was no exception. Which naturally lends itself to fabulous people-watching. There was the top bar bee hive demo, the lunch time crowds, the vendors, and all sorts of interesting folk to observe.

saturday afternoon
top bar hive demo
plain folk
catching a nap

Of course, there's endless vendors and booths to visit, and one of our must-visit areas is the Social Political Action Tent, followed by the Arts & Crafts Tents.

take back the tap
social justice
chaga chai booth
corsica blankets
trillium soaps

In the late afternoon, we met for lunch as a family and enjoyed the increasing clouds that cooled the day.

clouds roll in
her lunch
some tunes

As Saturday wound to a close, we met at the hill, for some tunes and grass sledding, but we stopped for maple candy on the way.

on the commons
maple candy

At the hill, or amphitheatre, is where the various bands perform and the many children gather to zip down the hay covered slopes on waxed lettuce box cardboard. No one knows who started this tradition, but it's always been the case. As our kids have grown, they don't spend as much time sledding as they do chasing each other in an elaborate game of tag through the crowds.

the sledding hill
siblings sweetness
the gang
olivia running through
adam running through
sebastian runs
the chase

Saturday came to a close as twilight fell and we went off to see what we could get for our evening Pie Cone and other goodies before going home to our beds.

end of day
hard working pie cone lady

Some of the vendors stay open as late as they can for the stragglers, and their lights lend a magical, carnival quality to the evening landscape. We somewhat reluctantly left Saturday behind, our tired feet knowing the way out better than our eyes in the mostly dark.

vendors at night
last call at the Indian food booth
dusk at the fair
a certain kind of magic


Ah, Sunday. Cold and gray, sweater weather. If only some of us had brought sweaters; layers worked instead. Adam had the best Sunday gear going, by far.

fair chic
his stylish ways

We warmed ourselves with brisk walk to the raw milk discussion and the kids went to the compost and recycling area to see their friends for a demo there.

raw milk discussion

After sitting in cold tents for an hour, four cups of hot cider were in order, and we had those while we listend to the afternoon address, given by Jim of Wood Prairie Farm, who spoke eloquently about his experiences with farming in rural Maine, the slow food movement and supporting groups such as Mofga.

hot cider for a cold day
hot cuppa cider
the noon speech

After that, the kids found yet another tribe of kids to run with for the day and Alex and I decided to get our purchasing done before closing at the farm market. Though so many things looked, well, good enough to eat, we limited ourselves to two large bags of apples, ten pounds of potatoes, four pounds of carrots, four pounds of pears, two large bags of onions, two bags of garlic, one for eating and one for seed, some leeks and some sweet annie for the scent (the whole fair smells of sweet annie). As we shopped, a group of minstrels serenaded the farmers with a thank you song. I admired the egg plants, once again, while remaining firm in my convictions that one does not ingest such spongey fruits, but admires them from afar, instead, as in digitally afar.

gang of kids
song for the farmers

With more exploring behind us, and even more running around for the kids behind them, our day and our stay at the fair ended and we chose to leave before the fair itself had quite ended. With an autumn chill in our bones and heavy eyelids and happy hearts, we got the urge for going. And so we did.

urge for going


  1. Your photos are beautiful! (As they always are.) I have been wanting to go to the Common Ground Fair for so many years, and your photos have taken me there.

  2. Incredible Amy! Thank you for this. I missed it this year and LOVED looking through all of your incredible photos...and of course the Mary Black reference. :)

  3. Thank you so much, Muffy and Kristen. I do appreciate you reading and commenting. Someday, Muffy, we'll meet at the sundial. And Kristen, Mary Black if you like, but we always play Joni Mitchell on the way to the fair and it's her version in particular, that I was thinking about.

  4. Thank-you Amy. The pictures are wonderful and you let this Oregonian feel like she was there..maybe next year!

  5. Oops. I should be flogged for Mary Black popping into my head before Joni Mitchell.

  6. I loved these pictures! I was transported to a lovely beautiful sustainable place for a few good moments on a Sunday. This was an amazing photo journey! Thank you.

  7. Lexa and mamak, thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for your comments.

    Kristen, that song is beautiful, no matter who sings it. ; )

  8. Good day,

    coming here from The Mahogany Way. What a fair. Love your pics.

    one love.



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