Stephen Oliver “The Fair”

Stephen Oliver

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.”

The Common Ground Country Fair has become a yearly ritual for me, since I first participated in the Social & Political Action Area 10 years ago as a Peace Action Maine board member. I enjoyed meeting thousands of people while helping Peace Action and also selling my line of peace T-shirts. I have had the pleasure of having several generations of customers from the same family and watching their children grow over the years. I feel the same way about the Fair that some of my customers feel about my T-shirts. My experience is just another reflection of the fact that “Common Grounders” have the aura of one big family. Once you experience this healthy and hopeful aura, you don’t want to take it off. I love the warm voices crackling over the announcement speaker greeting the new day, vendors and visitors each morning. I love the smell of warm shiitake mushrooms waking up my nose along with the scent of coffee. There is an overabundance of things to love about the Fair. They can be distilled into something I have been telling people each year at the Fair. I half-jokingly say, “We should all just stay at the fairgrounds and form an ideal community.” With the pandemic having dramatically altered Common Ground this year, I believe the principles that MOFGA stands for are more critical than ever.

Stephen Oliver

Bridgton, Maine

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