Welcome to the 34th Common Ground Country Fair!
By Jim Ahearne
The Fair has grown a lot over the last 34 years. More than 700 exhibitors, demonstrators, speakers and artists now participate in the Fair.
Behind all this activity is a remarkable group of volunteers who continue to inspire and create. Planning Common Ground is a year-round endeavor, and all year the volunteers on the Fair Planning Team are tending to their respective patches of the Fair – planning, making connections, sorting arrangements, minding the details – so that come late September, we can all enjoy the harvest of their efforts. These 150 or so Planning Team members bring us all of these 700 participants and events. Without them, there would be no Common Ground Country Fair.
The model of the volunteer Planning Team collaborating with MOFGA staff, volunteers on the Fair Steering Committee and the hundreds of Fair participants to bring forth Common Ground is a lot like the economy of Maine, especially the rural economy. It takes a lot of collaboration, sharing, innovation and hard work to make life tick here in Maine. But it sure tastes great at harvest! This is no more evident than on Maine’s farms.
A week before last year’s Common Ground Country Fair, an article in The New York Times covered the restaurants of Portland, Maine. At least initially it appeared to be about Portland’s restaurants. The story it really conveyed was that of the relationship between the chefs of Portland and Maine farmers. The writer recognized and celebrated that Portland’s emerging reputation as a Mecca of first class eateries is built not only on the creativity of its chefs, but with the bounty of Maine farms. Not acknowledged in the article, but deeply entwined in this relationship between farms and markets, are the hundreds of thousands of Mainers who are making healthy choices and make local and organic agriculture integral to their lifestyle and communities.
It’s those choices and connections, and the thousands more like them – among farmers, schools, restaurants, gardeners, businesses and consumers – in communities across Maine that we celebrate with the Common Ground Country Fair.
While celebrating, we certainly like to eat well and we have a good time. There’s a lot of fun to be had at the Fair, so we hope you enjoy it. Fill your cup with a good contradance and your plate with delicious organic food. Or flex your muscles for the manure-toss (didn’t know we had a manure toss, did you?) or with the Unity Fire Department’s test of strength game. Perhaps you’ll discover something new to you or smile at the reunion with an old friend.
Whatever attraction drew you to the Fair or your connection to Common Ground, on behalf of more than 6,000 MOFGA members, I thank you for your support and wish for you a great Fair!