The Common Ground Fair

I'm traveling this week, for food. Yesterday was the final day of the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine, the annual Down East celebration of local harvest and rural living. With upwards of 60,000 fair-goers, it's one of the largest local food gatherings in the country.

(Slow Food Nation, touted as "the largest celebration of American Food in history," drew only slightly over 60,000 with extensive advertising and a spot in local food hub San Francisco, making it all the more impressive what a crowd the Common Ground event draws with Maine food alone.)

The fair has been going strong for 32 years now, put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and boasts everything from fairground gardens to livestock demonstrations to a full blown farmers' market. Rules governing food vendors are strict: all ingredients must be organic, and from Maine if available in the state. Crafts, demonstrations, and animal participants are held to similar standards.

The net result falls somewhere in between Bangor and heaven. Over the course of the day, I tasted: a whole wheat honey-bun, stuffed with apples and pinenuts and drizzled with honey; an apple cider donut; a "blooming onion" fried onion ring type snack, accompanied by organic ketchup and a whole grain mustard mayo; a blueberry-apple cider snow cone; several jugs of apple cider; and a glass of "bog juice," made from crushed, pulpy cranberries with a bit of water and maple syrup.

I wish I could've tried more. Between the lamb-kebobs, the sausage rolls, and the pie cones, I could've used an extra belly. But while I didn't manage to fit it all in, the camera did. Every day this week, while I'm on the road, I'll offer several snapshots of the fair, in food. I hope you'll enjoy.


Katelyn Mack said...

That sounds amazing. I am so excited to be expanding my local food horizons and had no idea that MA and New England would make it so easy. Any idea when the Fair will be held this year? I'd love to go!

Elspeth said...

Katelyn, it IS amazing. This year, it's the weekend of Sept. 25, 26, and 27 I think, and I will most definitely be there! Wherever you are, it's worth the trip.



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