Saturday, September 23, 2006

A (Half) Day at the Fair

The Common Ground Fair in Unity, ME is one of those events we NEVER miss. It is an old-fashioned Agricultural fair with a healthy dose of Granola-heads and not a midway ride or cone of cotton candy anywhere in sight. Sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), this year marked their 30th annual fair. It is an immensely popular event, attracting people from all over the country (as evidenced by the "where are you from?" map festooned with colored pins just inside the front gate).

We get up early this morning and are on the road by 7AM, tote bag packed with cameras, knitting for the road, and some bagels to fuel us until lunch. We learned many years ago that there is no coffee served on the grounds in keeping with the ban on caffeine, processed sugars and flours and other non-organic elements. So we brew our own and bring it with us to sip on in the car.

The sky is a little overcast with temps in the 60's but that's ok. We actually prefer that to past years when the combination of a hot sun, high humidity and no shade in sight has made for a miserable day.

The ride goes quickly and we arrive shortly before the gates open. There are a lot of people there already, but nothing like the huge crowds we heard they had yesterday, the first of the three days. We buy our tickets from a vendor working the line and go in a few minutes past nine.

I'm excited at the prospect of taking some great pictures and I get off to a great start. We head for the farmer's market first so Brendan can pick up some of his favorite Russian Garlic and look over some of the other produce he will buy before we leave later this afternoon. The garlic is a big hit and often sells out early so he decides to get it early to ensure he isn't disappointed later. I wander around some of the produce booths, inhaling the wonderful smells of the herbs and enjoying the many beautiful arrangements of flowers, vegetables and fruits.

Watching this family preparing their booth, I am struck with the simple beauty of their arrangements and enchanted with the two little girls, still looking a little sleepy.

Their VW bus is full of beautiful fruits and
flowers like these:

Even the grayness of the day can do
nothing to mute the vibrancy of the colors.

This is our next stop:
The Onions were gorgeous and huge! The clusters of Sweet Annie hanging around the perimeter send an intoxicating smell that makes it impossible for us to leave without one to hang in our kitchen.

I love this little collection of tins at the entrance to one of the booths:

...and the woodcarving decorating the top of the entrance to this stall:

I spot another pretty little arrangement of mums and position myself to take the shot:

"Hey, Einstein...taking a picture here. Are ya blind, stupid or just rude?"... Geez, some people don't have the brains that God gave rocks!

Let's try this one again. *muttering to myself: IDIOT!*

There, that's better.

Ok, now it's time to head over to the Border Collie demo to watch some of Isla's distant cousins show off their smarts. I pull out the camera and then it happens... the *#$%@ing battery is dead! After only 15 minutes!!!!! WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? It isn't like I haven't been charging it for the past week non-stop! I am SO not happy right now. There is still so much to take pictures of...

...the amazing dogs working the sheep (and ducks!)

(Picture from MOFGA website taken in 2004)

...the barns full of chickens, rabbits, duck, goats, cows, and horses.

(also from MOFGA website)

...the agricultural pavilion with the winning entries of produce, crafts and artwork.

(MOFGA website)

...the craftsmen

(MOFGA website)

...the food (proof that delicious and all organic can co-exist!)

(MOFGA website)

...and, of course, MY favorite: the spinners and yarn sellers (because you can NEVER have enough yarn, right folks?)

(MOFGA website)

(Yes, that's a real live angora bunny on her lap. She is spinning the yarn directly off him. She said the good thing about the system is that he keeps her lap warm in the winter. The only bad thing is that he tends to pee on her every now and then... ewww!)

If you would like to view the entire slide show of photos from 2004's fair go here

Unfortunately, today's weather doesn't look ANYTHING like those pictures. As the morning progresses, the skies grow darker and darker and, just as we start to eat lunch the skies open up. We are cold, wet and pretty miserable. The exhibitor tents are crammed full of people looking to get out of the rain, triggering a nasty case of claustrophobia for both of us so we decide to cut the day short. It is just before noon. I manage to swing through one of the booths long enough to pick up some skeins of yarn at a great price...

wool/acrylic blend

100% wool

single ply wool

and Brendan makes a final stop at the Farmer's market for some gorgeous huge leeks, some onions and a few plump tomatoes. We declare the day a success and beat a path through the now-muddy parking lot to the dry, warm car. People are still lined up to get into the fair and the incoming traffic is backed up for miles.

We head home, put a fire in the fireplace and spend the afternoon napping and drying out! All in all, a good time as usual. Maybe next year we'll have better weather (and I will have a better camera!!!)



Sounds like a wonderful time!! Wish I had gone - but no coffee leaves me weak in the knees but the yarn would have made up for it

Anonymous said...

hippie yarn hanks of single ply already twisting back on themselves! The Common Ground Fair should not have acrylic or any other mass produced machine made fibers in the spinning area.../ This is an afront to me a spinner, yarn designer, and I would not be caught dead with those spinners. Flat landers fall for their junk every year. Sorry you fell for that approach to yarn; Again. Thoughts from my studio,

A Spinner