Year 1999

Tanner Musters Up Winning Poster Design

1999 poster artwork by Carol Tanner of Falmouth
1999 poster artwork by Carol Tanner of Falmouth

Winning the Common Ground Country Fair Poster Competition “was one of the goals of my life,” says Carol Tanner of Falmouth, who designed the garlic scene that will go on this year’s poster, tee-shirts, tote bags and other goods. When she got the call saying she’d won, “I was very surprised! I was sitting down and got goose pimples!”

Tanner is probably familiar to fairgoers as the owner of Mother’s Mountain Mustard, which, since 1983, has had a booth at the Fair (although Tanner herself has been attending the Fair since it was in Litchfield). In fact, fairgoers helped Tanner develop her line of mustards. At the 1983 Fair, she sold a mustard made from her mother’s recipe.

Her mother had made it for her father in the thirties. “People said, ‘Make it hotter,’” says Tanner, so she developed a hotter type. “The second year they said take the honey out,” so she developed another type. Likewise, Mother’s Mountain Dijon was developed, as well as a seedy-grainy type of mustard and a ketchup – all from fairgoers recommendations. The Fair “gave them a chance to say what they liked.”

When she isn’t making mustard, Tanner may be found gardening or enjoying her artistic endeavors. “I love art,” she says. “I always have my eyes open. I just like nature, people, places, things. On a vacation, I always have my watercolors with me,” and she uses them during those vacations when she’s not busy tasting food. “It’s never boring,” she says of her life. “I can look at the sky and see it changing. I love Andrew Wyeth’s response when asked what his hobby was. He said he liked to watch the shadows.”

Making garlic into art has brought Tanner full cycle regarding the Common Ground Fair. She got the idea for the poster when she bought a braid of garlic at the Fair five or six years ago. She also buys garlic at the Fair to plant in her garden, and that growing garlic was her model for the scape pictured in the poster. “That’s the nice part” about the poster, she says. “It’s recycled from the Fair, to me, and back to the Fair.” After winning the poster design competition, Tanner was brought on a tour of Liberty Graphics to see how her design would be put to use. “I have great respect for anything made there” as a result of that tour, she says. “One shirt can require a dozen to 24 plates for all of the steps and colors. Just to think of ordering … storing … shipping all of those shirts!”

The poster competition is just one aspect of the Fair that Tanner thoroughly appreciates. She loves being at the Fair, especially on Friday – Kids’ Day. One year, Samantha Smith came to her booth. “That was exciting! She had such a beaming face!” Those beaming faces are so important, she says: “They’re the future of America.”

She also praises MOFGA for “how they put that [fairground] together in such a fast time. What great spirit they have!”

– Jean English

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