Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

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Meet Eleanor Salazar – MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair Coordinator

Meet Eleanor Salazar – MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair Coordinator

September 1, 2017

Eleanor Salazar, our Common Ground Country Fair coordinator, grew up traveling between Washington, D.C., and her family's small cattle farm in West Virginia. She holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon. While pursuing her degree Salazar studied metalsmithing and, since 2004, has worked as a bench jeweler and jewelry designer. She moved to Maine from Hawaii in 2005 to work for a small jewelry studio on Deer Isle and decided to make a permanent home in New England. She first joined the Common Ground Country Fair as the volunteer coordinator in 2012. Most of her free time is spent gardening, cooking, quilting, working on a very old house, and generally adventuring with her husband and two young sons. The Salazars live in South Montville.

Q. After our Fair director, April Boucher, you are second in command in the Fair office. What does your job entail throughout the year and during the Fair? Do you get to enjoy the Fair?

My job mainly consists of communicating with Fair vendors and speakers as they move through the application process, working with our area coordinators as they review all those applications to create area layouts and speaker schedules, and then dealing with the business end of things as everyone gets contracted for their spaces and presentations.  Once a month the office staff meets with the Fair Steering Committee to talk about both the big picture of where the Fair is heading and the nitty-gritty of making it work. The Fair Steering Committee is made up of a group of dedicated volunteers with a passion for the Common Ground Country Fair. Many have been involved since the early days in Litchfield and Windsor, and others are newer recruits. The committee is responsible for making sure the Fair continues to be the invaluable community event that it has become.  We encourage anyone with an interest to join us. 

As for getting to enjoy the Fair, the office tends to be pretty non-stop hectic, so venturing out can be hard. Last year I managed to get away from the office a few times to grab a bite to eat or walk around a bit with my family. This year I’m keeping a list of things I don’t want to miss so that I can be more strategic about those brief moments when I can explore. 

Q. How does the Fair office coordinate with more than 2,000 volunteers?  

The volunteers are really the magic that holds this Fair together. Without these superstars, we wouldn’t be able to make it happen. There are two categories of volunteers at the Fair: the area coordinators and the shift volunteers. All our shift volunteers sign up in advance with the help of our fabulous volunteer coordinator, Anna Libby, or at the volunteer check-in tent when they arrive at the Fair. Once these volunteers have signed up, the area coordinators take the reigns to oversee every task that needs to be done to keep the train moving. The coordinators act as the link between the office and the shift volunteers. As I mentioned, I also work with many of the area coordinators throughout the year in bringing together the vendor and educational booths as well as the Fair presentation schedules. So basically, the volunteers make the Fair possible, and we act as their administrative backup.  

Q. You’ve lived in some varied and exotic places. What made you settle on Maine as your home?

I ended up in Maine as a bit of a fluke. Hawaii was lovely, but I wanted to be back on the East Coast to be closer to my family. I happened to have a connection to a jewelry studio in Deer Isle through an old friend, and they happened to be looking for a bench jeweler. I had been to Maine only a couple of times before, and living on an island up north seemed like a good adventure. I met my husband there, and we have been in New England ever since. Honestly, I can’t think of a better place for my children to call home. 

Q. Is your family involved in the Fair? Do your sons have favorite areas or events at the Fair? Do you?  

Since my youngest is still so little, it is hard for my husband and the boys to be too involved in the Fair yet. They do love to come, though. My oldest is counting down the days until he can participate in the Youth Enterprise Zone, and he comes up with a new business plan on a regular basis. Last year their favorite part of the Fair was the Children’s Area. We’ll see what they gravitate toward this year, although they are already talking about what face paint they’ll be getting, so I imagine they’ll beeline it for the Children’s Area again. My favorite part of the Fair has always been the livestock. I particularly love seeing the oxen, but it is all pretty fantastic.         

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