Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Common Ground Fair

Last week we trudged through the forest in Unity, Maine, accompanied by the sound of the train whistle blowing through the trees, to the massive field where The Common Ground Fair is held.  
This isn't just any fair.  Now in its 34th year, The Common Ground Fair is a celebration of sustainable living, from forestry to farming to traditional crafts and cooking.  This year 59,600 people attended over the course of 3 days.
There are maple-syrup and cider donuts,
baskets of flowers, fresh and dried, and bunches of Sweet Annie to take home to make into wreaths.
There's hand-dyed yarn from organically-raised sheep,
hobbit holes in which to peek,
and pumpkins for the picking.

Pixies and elves parade through the fairgrounds, 
casting spells and scattering sunflowers in their wake.
We spent a sweet day there with the horses, goats, and mules,
a fine mist coating our hair, and our bellies full of warm cider, switchel, and Indian pudding.

By the end of the day, my bones chilled by the damp and cold, I longed to climb into the hay and nap with the pigs.  There are few creatures, I think, who know how to sleep as happily and well as they do.  

I should add that I myself don't eat meat and that I am well aware of the ultimate fate of these pigs, but I believe that if people are going to eat meat, the animals who provide that meat should be well cared for and the meat should be free of chemicals and hormones.  The farmer who raises these pigs was sitting in the hay with them as I took these photos.  She talked with great affection and respect about her pigs.  Respect and care for the animal is an important end in itself, but it also means that the meat we feed children will be much healthier and more nutritious, as will our land and water.  The more we support local farms the more we can trust that our meats and produce are being raised responsibly and sustainably.  We can also help to preserve farmland and save it from development and sprawl.  Nothing makes me sadder--or angrier, actually--than to see a housing development named "Cider Hill Farm" after the orchard that used to exist on the land where 100 cloned condos or 25 Mac Mansions now scar the hillside.
I am a girl who loves a country fair.  This one is the best.  You know, as you drive into Maine there's that sign that says "Welcome to Maine: The Way Life Should Be."  A lot of folks go to the outlets at Kittery or Freeport and think they have been to Maine.  No.  The Common Ground Fair reminds us of the way life truly should be: sustainable, healthy, and in harmony with the earth.


  1. Oh MY!!! That looks and sounds like a treat like no other, Gigi. What an incredible event! It looks wonderful and magical in the best possible way. I am envious.
    Did I ever tell you that Maine is way up there at the top of my list to visit?

    And (as a non meat eater too) that piggy picture is my absolute favourit! "-)
    C x

  2. love it -- like the real life in vermont, where i spent a number of years. beautiful shots.

  3. What a wonderful event! Oh how I would have loved to attend. Thanks for sharing all the gorgeous photos.
    And those pigs! Could it be? A smile on a content little piggy face? Too much!

  4. Oh, this is such FUN... something like that is up our street! I miss real fairs like that...*sigh*... Such sweet, charming photos, Gigi. Love those snoozing piggies, pixies and Hobbit Holes. Gotta get me a Hobbit Hole! ;o) Thanks for taking us along... Happy Week ((HUGS))

  5. Ciara: When you do come to Maine, you know that we must meet for reals, right?!

    Lucy: Oh, I agree! I went to grad school in Vermont, and I spent some time at the Vermont Studio Center. I LOVE Vermont!

    nacherluver: Yep. That was one happy little pig.

    Tracy: I know that you of all people would just love this event. And the yarns! You'd be in heaven. I've never seen so many beautiful yarns all in one place.

  6. What a terrific fair! I've always had a dream of visiting Maine and one of these days I will realize that dream. :) Wouldn't it be perfect to go this time of year so I could enjoy this fair, too? :)

  7. so beautiful - love the shots and those little piggies. i agree about the food we raise.

    sounds like a wonderful time.

  8. i love this post. those pigs do look truly happy!
    i am currently living in PEI so that lobster roll sign is looking familiar :)
    have a good week

  9. Wow, that looks like a fabulous fair, Gigi...your photos are so enticing, and that piggie photo is so adorable!!

    Many years ago, I used to spin my own wool on a hand spinner and dye the yarn with vegetables...This fair would be right up my alley! Have a beautiful week, my friend! xxoo :)

  10. I love it! Looks like you had a great time... good pics :)

  11. Not only did you share this charming event but you took incredible pics too Gigi. Especially the pigs and horses, you must love animals. Those yarns are exquisite. Much love XO

  12. This post was soo 'feel good' and says 'autumn' do those autumn-hued pigs. I like what you said about raising them with love and respect and ending their lives the same matters.

  13. This looks like such fun! I do eat meat, but I don't want to see my pig smiling before I eat him. I don't eat nearly as much of it as I used to, but I do love bacon:)

    My first thought when I started reading...SEND LOBSTER! Stew, rolls...yummy!

  14. Kelli: I think Maine in the fall is the best. You get gorgeous weather, beautiful foliage, and great fairs like this one.

    Char: Oh, it is!

    Laura: I so want to visit PEI! I spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia when I was growing up because my grandparents lived there, but I've never been to PEI.

    Cathi: Wow, what a cool thing to learn about you. I have such admiration for wool spinners. it looks incredibly difficult to me, but I LOVE the finished product!!

    Thanks, Nicolette!

    You're a sweetheart, Sande, and yes, I do love animals.

    Teri: Thanks Teri. I agree; it does matter.

    Haha, Sue! You sound like my husband. He's a lobster fanatic!

  15. Oh my gosh! I haven't been to the Common Ground
    Fair in a long time. It is a long ride for me. I did win 2 blue ribbons on my art there.
    The photo of the pigs is wonderful.
    Enjoyed your post. Thanks

  16. The fair sounds like much fun! Now I am one that can say I have been to the outlet at Kittery and no where else in Maine. This is very sad, but I hope to rectify this someday.

  17. I love fairs and this sounds like the epitome of fairs...what a wonderful day you shared with us...I love that pic of those sweet smiling napping piggies...

  18. It looks absolutely glorious. I want to stuff myself with lobster roll and cider donuts, and then make like one of these sleepy pigs . . . but rather than straw, I'd like to lounge against a bed of pastel-colored wool.

    This post was like an antidote for me. I just read some poisonous anti-Obama comments . . . and from over here, In England, it's far to easy to start having a distorted view of Americans. So good to be reminded that there is "Unity," too . . . and that lots of people are devoted to sustaining all that is beautiful and true.

  19. What a lovely day you've had. I can hear the contentment in your voice. I know, just know, how happy you are by the choice you've made to come home. Yes, welcome home, my friend. Home to life as it should be.

  20. I go to The Common Ground Fair every year. As a crafter I am a huge fan of the mass amounts of yarn and fiber. The brick oven pizza and crab meat rolls are to die for and the cold weather is always the perfect excuse to get a hot apple cider.

    Your photos are beautiful!


    P.S. - My neighbor is the owner of Borealis Breads who vends there. So if you haven't had his breads, then I would check it out. I believe you can find some of his breads at Hannaford. But considering you are in Portland, you would probably find a better selection at Whole Foods

  21. I agree, Alisha! I love having such an amazing selection of yarns. I haven't tried the pizza yet, but I will next year. I love Borealis Breads! Portland is a great bakery town, but Borealis are among my favorites. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

  22. What a wonderful place! Oh, I'm jealous!

  23. You live in such an organic, beautiful I long to visit. And perhaps stay in a little hobbit hole and eat maple syrup doughnuts! I am so enchanted.
    Pig smiles...I wonder what he is dreaming of? So adorable!!


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