Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Fair News - Summer 2013

Fair News Archive \ Fair - Summer 2013

Common Ground Country Fair
September 20, 21 & 22, 2013
(always the third weekend after Labor Day)

Grace Keown’s ‘Oxen Team’ Design Wins Common Ground Art Contest
2014 Fair Poster: Call for Entries
Area Coordinators Wanted for Fair
Volunteer Registration Open for the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair

Ted Conrad's oxen, the team that inspired Grace Keown’s 2013 poster design, at the Common Ground Country Fair. John Williams photo.

Grace Keown’s ‘Oxen Team’ Design Wins Common Ground Art Contest

Grace Keown of Dixmont, Maine, has won MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair poster contest with her “Oxen Team” design, to be featured on posters, T-shirts, cloth bags and other goods being sold at the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair on Sept. 20, 21 and 22, and at

This is the second time Keown has won the Fair art contest. Her “Red Barn” design graced the 2008 Fair goods.

“This is the design that almost wasn't,” says Keown. “I was trying to capture the look of an oxen team at work, when they're watching their handler and seem to ask, ‘OK, now what?’ It finally came together after about a half-dozen preliminary sketches.

“I also wanted to convey the absolute enormity and strength but also gentleness of these animals in an iconic way. One of my favorite mediums, scratchbord, fit the bill and was used for the original design. Oxen teams are a popular draw at the Fair. They are such impressive, magnificent animals, the original heavy farm equipment! They were at one time indispensable to farms in Maine and the Maritimes.”

The yoke depicted on the oxen in Keown’s design is a style used in the Canadian Maritimes and on some of the oxen seen at the Common Ground Country Fair – and one that worked better than a neck yoke for design purposes, says Keown.

After transferring her drawing onto scratchbord – a pre-made panel of wood, clay and ink – Keown scratched the design in and applied color. Tim Nason, MOFGA’s publications designer, did the layout, and Liberty Graphics did the hand color separations. Both “worked their magic,” says Keown.

She says she was surprised and honored to win the contest, especially for the second time – a rarity. Judges do not know the artists’ identities when they select the winning entry.

Keown grew up in New Jersey and has lived in Arizona; Long Island, New York; and parts of New England.

“I’ve lived in Maine since 2004,” says Keown, “when my husband and I decided to move ourselves and kids up here to start homesteading and living more sustainably and simply.”

She and her family have a farmstead in the Dixmont hills, where they’re revitalizing the soil, bringing back a 90-year-old apple orchard (mostly ‘Wolf River’ and cider apples), raising chickens and turkeys, growing some of their own vegetables and berries organically, and supporting local agriculture and sustainability.

Keown received her B.A. in studio art and art history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During her nearly lifelong involvement in art, she has explored watercolor, pastel, scratchbord, acrylic, oil, pen and ink, printmaking, photography, jewelry making, stenciling and primitive rug hooking.

She is a member of the Valley Arts Alliance, and her work has been featured in a number of shows in Maine and New England, including the annual juried Belfast Arts in the Park, where she’ll be showing this July. Keown has also taught workshops in drawing, wire-jewelry making and watercolor painting.

“My work draws intensely from nature, color, seasonal light and the expressive potentials of the powerful Maine landscape,” says Keown. “Pastel, watercolor and scratchbord have been my media of choice for the past several years.

“I would like to say I am an artist by profession,” continues Keown, “although if I had to live by selling my work alone, I couldn’t at this point! But I keep trying by entering competitions and selling my work at local venues.”

When she isn’t working on her art, Keown works for MOFGA Certification Services LLC.

She and her family (including two teenagers) are enthusiastic about the organization. “MOFGA is one of the most important organizations we can support; I can’t stress that enough. The work they’ve been doing over the years has positioned them to be at the forefront of the local food and sustainability revolution. Maine is an ideal state for local agriculture to flourish, but it needs to flourish in all 50 states and the rest of the world as well. It is an honor for me to have my work be a part of MOFGA’s mission.”

She also loves Common Ground. “I’m really looking forward to the Fair,” says Keown. “It never gets old. It’s always exciting and a wealth of learning and of people coming together to share knowledge. There’s nothing else like it!”

Keown will be signing posters on Saturday at the Country Store at the 2013 Fair. Please see the schedule of events in the Sept.-Nov. issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener for the time. She may be contacted at, and her art appears at



2014 Fair Poster: Call for Entries

Have you ever wanted to be the artist behind the iconic Common Ground Country Fair poster? Did you know that each year MOFGA holds a design contest to select next year's poster?

The Common Ground Country Fair is looking for artists' submissions for the 2014 Fair poster. Artists who reside in Maine or are MOFGA members are invited to enter designs in the contest. The selected design will be the centerpiece of the 2014 Fair poster, Fair T-shirt and merchandise, and promotional media, including the Fair pages on MOFGA's website. The artist will be featured in this newspaper, along with a press release that focuses on the artist and the art. Also, the winning artist will receive $1,000.

Artists may submit two entries. Entries must be postmarked by Friday, August 2, 2013, or be hand delivered to the MOFGA office by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013.

Complete guidelines, including technical specifications, eligibility requirements and time line, or contact the Fair office at or 207-568-4142.


Area Coordinators Wanted for Fair

Yes indeed, opportunities are available to help organize Common Ground. Every facet of the Common Ground Country Fair is guided by volunteer coordinators, and we are looking for help in areas throughout the Fair. We have openings for coordinators, assistant coordinators and understudies, and for volunteers to provide leadership before, during and after the Fair and to contribute to the design and production of this extraordinary celebration. Below are some projects and areas where we are looking for help and where you could make a difference.

Parking – aka Arrival and Departure Experience Coordinators

In the past five years, MOFGA has invested considerably in parking capacity and traffic management to improve the arrival and departure experience for fairgoers. We have an incredible team of dedicated volunteers who manage parking and traffic at the Fair. Join their team and help ensure that positive Common Ground experience for all. A few places where you can help are:

  • traffic signage design and support
  • parking layout and set-up
  • shift leaders


  • audio and video production
  • alternative transportation support (promote buses, rideshares, train, cycling, etc.)
  • lost and found
  • press and media liaison
  • sponsorship program development
  • ticket gate staffing

Exhibitor Area Coordinators

Agricultural Demonstrations Area

  • media exhibitors

Young Maine Area

Programming and Activities

Children's Area
Donkey and Mule Show
Lawn Games

  • speaker/presenter hosts

Site Logistics

  • cleanup
  • site signage coordination (catalog, design, distribute, storage, update)
  • venue setup teams (manage tables, chairs and other equipment for exhibitor and speaker tents and venues)
  • waste, recycling and compost operations

Volunteer Support

  • volunteer camping management
  • Common Kitchen operations and food preparation
  • T-shirt coordination and distribution

As the Fair evolves, new opportunities arise. The above opportunities top our list, but perhaps you see a way to help with something we've missed. Either way, if you would like to take a leadership role in producing our big annual celebration, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Jim Ahearne or April Boucher at or 207-568-4142.


Volunteer Registration Open for the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair

Volunteer registration for the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair is now open. Volunteer opportunities are available before the Fair during setup; through the Fair weekend of September 20, 21 and 22; and afterward for cleanup. Individuals, families and groups are all welcome.

Individuals and groups can register here.

We rely on hundreds of volunteers, contributing in myriad ways, to produce MOFGA's annual celebration of rural living. Whether you have a specific skill, experience in a trade or simply an abundance of enthusiasm and creativity, the Fair has a volunteer role for you. Contributing in every imaginable way – from carpentry to commercial plumbing and electrical, landscaping, traffic control, preparing meals, collecting and sorting recycle-ables and trash, collecting tickets, serving meals, helping speakers, staffing information booths, selling T-shirts, and more – volunteers do just about anything and everything necessary to make the Common Ground Country Fair happen.

Volunteers who work a 4-hour shift receive a "grown and made in the USA" organic cotton Fair T-shirt, Fair admission and a delicious meal served by the Common Kitchen. Work additional shifts and receive additional meals and days of free admission.

For more information about volunteering at the Fair, visit the Fair Volunteers webpage at or contact Anna Libby at the MOFGA office at 207-568-4142 or