UNITY – Hurricane Isabel’s afternoon rains never showed up at the 27th annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity on Friday, but hundreds of visitors certainly did. From babes-in-arms to senior citizens, people flocked to the fair, a rare alternative event that annually celebrates organic living, farming and growing.
“Can’t you feel it?” asked Susan Butler of Buckfield. “There is a wonderful positive energy about Common Ground.”
From workshops on agriculture topics to making herbal tinctures, to hands-on lessons in chair caning and forestry, there is something for everyone at the fair. There are farmers markets, food vendors, juried craft tents, medicinal and health areas, a political action tent, fleece and fiber sales and exhibits, along with trial gardens and livestock exhibits.
Workshops, speakers and seminars are held in many locations around the fairgrounds.
Food aromas fill the air with the smells of grilled lamb, Yankee clam chowder, homemade pea soup and more traditional fair foods such as French fries and sausages and peppers.
“This is really one of the only fairs that is not carnival-oriented,” said Esther Sharrigan of Wiscasset. Sharrigan has been coming to Common Ground as a vendor for eight years. “There is such comradeship between everybody,” she said.
Sharrigan said that because all products sold are juried, patrons can be assured of very high-quality items.
In another vendor’s tent, Suzan Scribner-Reed sells paper jewelry, her fifth year at Common Ground.
“I usually do between 12 and 15 fairs a year,” said Scribner-Reed. “But this fair brings such a diversity of people. A lot of fairs that I do draw a specific type of people. This one is amazing – all kinds of people and a large volume too.”
Looking out of the tent into a nearby field, Scribner-Reed said, “And look at this great view. I can watch oxen!”
By the time the three-day event ends Sunday evening, more than 60,000 visitors are expected to attend.
Leanne Nickon of Bass Harbor creates hand-painted silk scarves and other items. “This is such a happy, festive crowd at Common Ground,” she said. “In the beginning it used to be such a hippie event. Now, it’s gone mainstream. They’ve done it right here by keeping their standards high.”
Nickon said the Common Ground Country Fair is her best fair of the year, both economically and spiritually. “It’s a real event. I love the atmosphere,” she said.
Another vendor, Mary Joan Mondello of East Corinth, creates herbal products and said that she sees two types of fair-goers.
“There are those that are aware and those that are looking for answers,” she said. “But, mostly, it is people who are interested in a natural experience, looking for pureness. You can walk right up to the animals here and put your fingers right in their fleece. This fair is a real experience.”
Located on Route 222 in Unity, the fair is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday.
Schedules are available at the entrances and list events by time in each of the eight fair areas.
More information can be found at the MOFGA Web site, www.mofga.org.