|Betsy Hart. English photo.
By Marada Cook
“Betsy Hart wears many hats,” says Heather Spalding, Director of the Common Ground Country Fair. “She is chair of the Fair Steering Committee, and she was one of the original coordinators of the Social and Political Action Areas. This year she sold tickets and worked in the Children’s Area.”
Ever since her first visit to the Common Ground Fair in 1984, Betsy Hart has been captivated by the sense of community and spirit embraced by MOFGA and embodied by the Fair. “I grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, and our entire neighborhood felt less like a community than the collection of folks I see only once a year at Common Ground.”
Betsy took her enjoyment of the Fair to another level in 1990 and became involved in organizing and coordinating new events. In 1992 she helped develop the Social and Political Action Area, and in 1994 she became the SPA coordinator. In 1995 she joined the Fair Steering Committee and in 1998 began coordinating Agricultural Demonstrations. She currently chairs the Fair Steering Committee.
Part of the reason for Betsy’s sustained interest in the Fair is her clear understanding of what the Fair means to her. “Common Ground is a model for how we can strive to live the rest of the year. It is an example of the ways in which we can live closer to our values all year round.”
She describes the Fair with enthusiasm, using key words to illustrate her point. “Education. Community. Collaboration. Color. Creativity. All these things go hand in hand. I get to the Fair on Monday, when the Common Ground still looks like a farm. Through the week an intense visual change occurs, until Friday morning when everyone is excited, and the fairgrounds are ready, beautiful.”
For Betsy, one of the highlights of the Fair is working with its director, Heather Spalding. “Heather has a rare gift — the perfect balance of people and organizational skills. Most people swing one way or the other, but Heather has got them both, and enthusiasm to match.”
Heather reciprocates. “Betsy Hart does an amazing amount of volunteer work, both for MOFGA, and for other organizations. She always encourages input and participation from those around her. She is aptly named, because she has a huge heart, and endless energy.”
“I see amazing things happen at Common Ground,” said Betsy, “and each year it’s something new.” This year it was the moving of the Maine Business tent. “The crew got the entire tent set up, ready to go, and we discovered it was in the wrong place, several feet over from where it needed to be.” A cry for help went out across the fairgrounds. “Within minutes 20 or more people had dropped whatever they were doing to come over and lend a hand. Together we lifted up this huge tent and walked it over to where it needed to be. That’s the spirit of the Fair!”