Thursday, June 20, 2013
BY ERIN RHODA Staff Writer
UNITY -- The three-day Common Ground Country Fair has 650 unique vendors and 700 different performances, talks and workshops, but fair director Jim Ahearne has his favorite.
IF YOU GO . . .
Common Ground Country Fair
• 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25
• For a complete schedule of events, visit
• Adults (13-64), $10
• Elders (65+), $8
• Children (12 & under),
• Handicapped citizens,
• School groups, free on
• Fair volunteers, free
• Bike to the fair, get $2 off
• Take the train from Unity
or Thorndike, get $2 off
It's called the Youth Enterprise Zone, and it features young Maine entrepreneurs selling items they designed and made themselves. Last year youth presented dragons made of felt, beeswax candles and origami.
"It's like walking into a pet shop with all the birds and the dogs and the noise. It's really hopping in there," Ahearne said about the event, which this year is all day Friday, Sept. 23. "It's a real pick-me-up. You walk in there, and you can't help but walk out of there with a smile."
Ahearne could have been describing the fair as a whole. The 35th Common Ground Country Fair -- designed to celebrate rural life and sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association -- will run Sept. 23-25. Last year it drew 59,000 people.
"There are many folks who come to the fair and then really find something here that speaks to them, that affects their life for years to come," Ahearne said. "That's because the fair is really about how we live in Maine."
This year the fair has grown to include two farmers' markets, plus an additional train to bring people from the parking lots to the fair. The fair will also focus on how climate change affects Maine agriculture, Ahearne said.
As usual, it will have organic food vendors, Native American arts, folk music, lectures about the environment and farming, an herb tent, social and political action area, agricultural demonstrations, crafts and exhibits on renewable energy. The food vendors are required to use organic and local ingredients.
The fair primarily features Maine farms and people, with vendors open until 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. It is organized by close to 2,000 volunteers.
"The people that are here, the vendors and exhibitors, are essentially your neighbors," Ahearne said. "It's really about our own vitality and sustainability of the Maine economy and the lifestyle all of us here in Maine cherish so much."
Some workshop sessions include: "Trimming the Draft Horse if You are over 50," "Edible Landscaping," "Raising Happy Pigs" and "What to Look for When Purchasing an Older Tractor."
There will be many events, including a "public policy teach-in" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, which will address the effects of climate change on Maine farms.
The popular sheep dog demonstrations with Dave Kennard will continue. There will be three demonstrations with the herding dogs each day, starting at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Also on Saturday, contestants will once again participate in the Harry S. Truman Memorial Manure Toss and test their ability to throw dried manure with pitchforks.
There will be a fleece show and sale during the day. Plus, there will be a donkey and mule show at 9:15 a.m. where the animals will jump, pull wagons and haul logs.
A draft horse show will start at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday.
Pets are not allowed on the fairgrounds, Ahearne said. He reminded people to arrive early because crowds make it more difficult to enter the fair quickly.
Water spigots are available for people to fill up their water bottles, he said. Every event will continue if it rains.
Erin Rhoda -- 612-2368