Wednesday, May 22, 2013
UNITY -- With about 60,000 people flocking to the Common Ground Country Fair this weekend, the village of Unity has the potential to be anything but unified, harmonious and cohesive.
THE FAIR ONLINE
For a schedule: schedule.commongroundcountryfair.com
To find potential carpool riders, drivers: www.mofga.org, click on “Common Ground Country Fair,” then click on “Directions & Parking,” then click on “Rideshare with GoMaine!”
For information about cycling to the fair: Call the Bicycle Coalition of Maine at 623-4511 or email info@BikeMaine.org.
For train schedules and prices from Brooks or Thorndike: www.mofga.org and click on “Common Ground Country Fair,” then click on “Directions & Parking.”
For fair information, including ticket prices and directions: www.mofga.org.
"We're sticking about 25,000 people (a day) in a relatively small spot, and they all just to have understand you can only put so many cars on a two-lane road," said Sgt. Dale Brown, of the Waldo County Sheriff's Office.
Brown -- who for 12 years has been coordinating fair security and directing the throngs of motorists converging on the 340-acre site at 294 Crosby Brook Road from U.S. Route 202 and state routes 137, 139 and 220 -- offered tips for drivers to arrive safely and calmly.
"Be patient, cognizant of the guys (officers) in the road and your fellow motorists," he said. He added that fairgoers might want to avoid peak travel hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Fair organizers are also promoting bikes, trains and carpools as ways to reduce traffic congestion. Even with traffic lines, fair director Jim Ahearne said the 700 attractions will be worth the wait. "It's a great Maine tradition," he said.
The fair, in its 35th year, features events ranging from musical performances and classes on how to knit socks and become a beekeeper, to a road race, sheep dog demonstrations and a manure toss contest.
To experience as much as possible, Ahearne said attendees should check the schedule out online before they make plans.
Above all else, Ahearne said, "Bring an appetite, the food is great."
Fair officials encourage people to take in the fair Friday, which is when many area schoolchildren attend, and Sunday, to help alleviate congestion Saturday.
Last year's Saturday attendance set a one-day record of nearly 27,000, Ahearne said.
Even if 27,000 people arrive all on one day, Ahearne said plenty of free parking is available because the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, which puts the fair on, bought additional land bordering the fairgrounds.
Fairgoers, he said, are still encouraged to carpool. Potential riders and drivers can be found on the fair's website.
A couple of perks await cyclists who pedal to the fair. They can roll into the Rose Gate to the north, where volunteers will park their bicycles and watch them until 6 p.m. Cyclists also get $2 off fair admission.
There are seven designated park-and-pedal sites from 3 to 12 miles from the fairgrounds.
The five park-and-pedal sites three and four miles from the fairgrounds are marked. The Mount View complex on Route 220 in Thorndike and the Field of Dreams, on U.S. 202 in Unity, are both three miles away, and Unity College on Quaker Hill Road, and the Unity Community Center and Unity Elementary School, both on Route 139, are all four miles away.
In addition, there are two unmarked sites: Troy General Store on routes 9 and 202 in Troy is a six-mile ride and the Albion Town Office on U.S. 202 in Albion is 12 miles one way.
There's another way to save $2 on admission -- ride the rails.
The Brooks Preservation Society and Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway will have two locomotives operating throughout the weekend. Riders may park and board on Cornshop Road off U.S. 202 in Unity and Mill Road off Route 220 in Thorndike.
Brown and Ahearne reminded attendees to leave dogs, except for service ones, at home. Pets, they said, are prohibited from the fairgrounds, parking lots and camping areas.
The fair is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Beth Staples -- 861-9252