Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Fair News – Winter 2009-2010

Fair News Archive \ Fair News – Winter 09-10

2009 Fair Poster

Common Ground: The Essence of Sharing

By Jim Ahearne, Fair director

About a week after this year’s Fair, I met a couple who recently moved to Maine from Seattle. They had attended the Fair for the first time the previous Saturday with their 12-year-old son and were eager to share with me how much they enjoyed and appreciated the Common Ground Country Fair.

“Seattle prides itself on being the hippest place with the best of everything,” one of them said, “but Seattle has absolutely nothing that compares to the Common Ground Country Fair.”

What struck them most were the smiles on everyone, and the abundance of information, demonstration and sharing of skills, trades and ideas that are available at the Fair. Not that we take all this for granted, but it is reaffirming when a fresh set of eyes notices, in essence, that “you have something really special here.”

Such is the nature of life in Maine, where geography, climate and community conspire to produce interesting (and I mean that in a good way) neighbors. There is an awareness of interdependence upon each other and upon our natural resources that defines life in Maine. We celebrate that interdependence with the Common Ground Country Fair.

This year more than 51,000 people ventured to Unity to be a part of Common Ground. I hope you were one of them. If you were, I’d like to hear from you. What does the Common Ground Country Fair mean for you? What is unique about the Fair? Where do you see room for improvement, for growth and for change? Do you have new ideas for the Fair? Old ideas you’d like to see dusted off? The suggestion box is open.

The Common Ground Country Fair belongs to its members, its participants, its volunteers and its fairgoers. Already, we’re beginning our work on next year’s Fair. Please write to me, via letter or email (, if you have thoughts on the Fair that you would like to share.

Remember, all good ideas evolve into work, so we invite you to become a volunteer and bring your good work to the Fair.

Thank you for your support of MOFGA and particular thanks to the volunteers, members and participants who make this uniquely Maine celebration possible.

Save the dates: September 24, 25 and 26 (always the third weekend after Labor Day) for the 2010 Common Ground Country Fair, and we’ll see you next year.

Another Successful Year for the Fleece Tent

The 2009 sales for the Fleece Tent at the Common Ground Fair – while down a bit from 2008 given a Fair-wide slow Sunday – were still most gratifying: $11,100-plus, with close to 1,000 pounds of Maine fiber sold. Sales on Friday alone topped $6,300.

This is once again great news for both the Fleece Tent committee and the 47 growers who had fiber in the sale this year. It confirms for us that the Fleece Tent is truly a destination for fiber lovers from Maine and beyond seeking the best of Maine fiber.

We had a good fleece show on Saturday. Louise Hessert of Cumberland served as our judge, fielding questions from observers and sharing her in-depth knowledge about fiber with all. The following received ribbons and premiums: Wool, First – Wanatha Garner (2), Betty Hauger, Elaine Cloutier, Joe Miller (4), Pam Child (2) and Allison Thompson; Wool, Second – Jenny Smith; Wool, Third – Alf Wakeman. In addition, Wanatha Garner received a rosette for best white fleece for her Merino, and Joe Miller received a rosette for best colored fleece for his Lincoln. Miller’s Lincoln also earned the Best-in-Show rosette. Specialty Fibers: Llama, First – Karen Klein; Pygora, First – Jenny Smith; Angora, First – Jenny Smith (3). Klein also received a rosette for best specialty fiber. All show participants received their judging forms with scores and judge’s comments.

“Across the way” the Wednesday Spinners tent had another busy, activity-filled weekend for all involved. Drop-spindling attracted kids of all ages on Friday. The Story LoomTM – a smaller version of the Earth LoomTM and the inspiration of Susan Barrett Merrill of Weaving a Life, in Brooksville, Maine – drew many fairgoers throughout the weekend. We welcomed everyone’s creative additions to this year’s tapestries.

Add to these events a full schedule of well-attended talks and informal discussions at both the Fleece Tent and the Wednesday Spinners Tent and we can happily say that we celebrated our 32nd year at the Fair in grand style.

The seven vendors in the Fiber Marketplace reported brisk sales for the weekend.

As always, Dave Kennard and his border collies attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, even in Sunday’s rain.

We encourage all Maine fiber growers to consider taking part in the fleece sale and show next year. To be added to our growers’ email group or to obtain information about the 2010 sale and show, please contact Penelope Olson (in Appleton), 785-2784,

Thanks to 2009 Fair Volunteers!

Thanks to 2009 Common Kitchen Donors!

2009 Fair Awards