Well, the week has finally arrived. This is the week of the Common Ground Country Fair at MOFGA in Unity. I know that I have linked to this a bunch of times, but one more can’t hurt. http://www.mofga.org/
This fair is like no other that I have seen. Maybe they have them where you live, but this is the only one I know of in Maine at least, and probably New England? This fair has none of the things that make other country fairs tacky and trashy. There are no rides, no games, no flashing lights, no one yelling at you to step right up and
lose your money try your luck over here. This fair is the finest of agricultural fairs. All of the food offered for sale is organic. In fact, only in the last year or two can you even buy coffee at the fair, and this is all Fair Trade coffee, roasted in Maine. There is a farmers’ market, there are crafters booths, all range of things made by the finest craftsman and women–jewelry, fabrics and fibers, wood workings, beads, yarns, spinning fibers, clothing, baskets, honey, oh, the list goes on. There is an area where they make bean hole beans. The smell is amazing.
When you have eaten and looked at all of the wares for sale, there are classes and talks to attend on such a wide variety of topics–health and nutrition, traditional native american medicines, politics and causes of all sorts, seed saving, gardening, farming, livestock raising, fiber preparation, and more and more and more.
Every year I think, “Maybe we won’t go this year, its too far away, its too expensive, etc. “, but every year either we both go or I go by myself. Since I have lived here (8+ years) I have missed one fair, and I was so depressed about it the whole weekend. It is about an hour and a half from here, so it is feasible to drive there and back for one of the days (it runs only Friday, Saturday and Sunday), but not for two or all three days. And you really need to be there more than one day to see everything that you want to.
There is camping at the fair, but only if you are volunteering. I tried this last year with disastrous results. I went by myself. Ug was not able to go last year because of a foot surgery just weeks before the fair. So I decided to be brave, to volunteer, and to camp by myself for the weekend. When you volunteer, you are given free entry to the fair each day that you volunteer, are allowed to camp for free, and you get a very prestigious t-shirt with the fair artwork on one side and “VOLUNTEER” on the back. I thought I would get to see more of the fair, or from a different angle. Volunteering is a 4 hour shift each day, and you basically get to choose which 4 hours that will be and can choose where you are helping out. There are all manner of ways to volunteer–composting (everything at the fair is recycled and/or composted–they do not even sell bottled water at the fair), working in the kitchen (volunteers are also given a free meal per shift), taking tickets at the gate, whatever they need done. There are lots of areas to choose from. I worked as a ticket taker at the gate. But the camping is really just a parking spot in the field that is serving as the parking lot. This means you have a car on either side of you just like at the mall. Which still would have been fine, but it was so HOT there that weekend. It usually is hot on the weekend of the fair, but that weekend was HOT HOT HOT. Standing in the sun for 4 hours taking tickets did not make for an enjoyable fair for me. My face was beet red and I think I probably had a bit of heat stroke. At the end of that first day I felt kind of sick, so I think it was too much. Then camping in the hot van with people all around was not better either. I’m sure there are good volunteering experiences more than there are bad ones, but it just wasn’t the best way for me to see the fair.
Anyway, Ug can come this year and we are going to be camping at a state park on Lake George in Liberty, which is about 15 miles from Unity. A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday we took a ride to scope out the available camping. After stopping at the local grocery store and at the fair grounds, we had talked to a few people and this was the only camping they could think of. We picked out our camp site and made a reservation for Thursday through Saturday nights. If it should be a warm weekend, we will be able to swim too, but I think that hot weather will not be a problem this year–it has been so cold here the last week or so. We had our first frost last night. So I think a big pile of blankets will be needed!
We are packing all kinds of food–we will be bringing our lunches with us to the fair, and a few things to do while back at the campsite. Ug has some books he wants to bring, and I am trying to decide what to bring to spin (of course!). Part of our wanting to camp for the three or four days is wanting to be able to keeps our minds on the fair and what we are learning while we are there. With the different lectures and presentations we will be attending, there will be a lot to think about. I think that when you are driving back and forth, you might lose some of that inspiration as you think more about how tired you are of driving, getting home, regular daily stuff. But I think being away from home will give us more time to stay present with what we are seeing and doing.
I always come away from this fair so inspired. Reinvigorated to spend more time gardening, sewing, fiber-ing, and thinking about things from some different perspective that I did not have when I got there. I just cannot wait. And now the work begins, the van needs to be emptied, packed with tent and awning, firewood, food, blankets and blankets and blankets, and spinning wheel and bicycles and and and….
Oh there is one ride there for children–There is a hill designated for sledding. The sleds are card board boxes. And those kids seem to have even more fun than riding on the Zipper or the Scrambler or whatever other ride they might find at some other fair.
See you there!