Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Heroes of the Common Ground Country Fair!

Fair News Archive \ Luce – 2003

Barbara Luce
Barbara Luce

By Barbara Luce, Fair Director

About 30 areas of the Fair are visible, and another 15 or so behind-the-scenes “areas” are essential to the Fair. The “Planning Team” includes supervisors of areas and those who outline and coordinate everything necessary for the brief three days of the Fair that you see! THESE are the volunteers whom I consider the unsung heroes of the Fair, and without them the Fair simply would never get off the ground! Not to diminish the volunteers who come for one, two or more shifts of the Fair, but these planning team members work the Fair all year. MOFGA would never have become the organization that it is without their creative, dedicated and generous donation of time and effort, and if we had to pay face value for their work, we’d probably still owe all of the people who have done this job in the past and those who do it now.

Area coordinators are individuals or teams who work all year to organize particular areas. They attend meetings before, during and after the Fair, where they discuss the successes, surprise benefits, and, conversely, the snafus, bottlenecks and high wire balancing acts each area experienced during the Fair. This networking helps all coordinators brainstorm and come up with new approaches for their areas.

Every year these coordinators review their initial cover letters and applications to the Fair; adjust guidelines to reflect the maturity of the area; review completed applications for adherence to area guidelines; then accept, reject or put applicants on a waiting list. Many areas have many more applications than spaces available.

Next coordinators figure the number of volunteers, volunteer T-shirts and signs needed. They may write a piece for this newspaper. They determine the layout for vendors and coordinate speakers.

When the Fair finally arrives, coordinators gather the volunteers, give them a meal ticket (one of the bennies of volunteering), assign duties, then keep their eyes out for a co-coordinator to share these duties and bring that person into the circle (or maybe it’s the web). Finally, coordinators help take down and inspect the area after the Fair. Within a week, they START AGAIN from the beginning!

The Common Ground Country Fair is a celebration of rural living and, like MOFGA, our parent, feels a great responsibility to show the Fairgoer the joy and value of sustainable living. As such many people come to the Fair for their yearly exposure to sources for this lifestyle. Many come for the ongoing workshops and intellectual stimulation and discussion of new and alternative ideas for sustainable living that are standard at the Fair. They find pure entertainment with no hype – dancing, singing, playing, watching livestock and animals do what they do best. They may talk with farmers about their livestock, produce and farms. Certainly they can purchase organic foods, with an emphasis on Maine-grown, that will please all palates.

The list goes on, so I’ll just say: COME TO THE FAIR! The Common Ground Fair is unlike any other Fair you’ve ever attended, and that’s why we’ve got the fierce loyalty and devotion of these area coordinators … my heroes!

2003 Fair Poster