On the Common in Union, Maine

We arrived here at the renowned Union Fair too early in the week to see the advertised Maine Blueberry Queen selection and the Blueberry Spitting Contest, the latter we assume not being part of the former. However, we enjoyed a fine afternoon at the Fair.

This country fair originated in 1869, when visitors arrived by foot, wagon, and carriage; they tied their horses to hitching posts when stables were full. Reports indicate that the hit events then were horse and oxen plowing contests. These were farming families, many with Civil War veteran fathers or War-widowed mothers. It’s hard to imagine what they would think of today’s rides and games, not to mention the popular burrito stand where we had a delicious lunch.

The Union Fair is one of three Maine agricultural fairs that have received considerable attention nation-wide, especially on the East Coast. The other two are the Unity and Blue Hill Fairs, which are held in September. (The Blue Hill Fair was part of the inspiration for E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web.)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of all of these fairs is the participation of children and teenagers in the competitions. Below, a youngster helps her brother who is waiting to be called for a youth "steer pull" and a girl runs her oxen through the complicated “twitch and scoot” course:

The adult events come in fast, slow, and really slow versions, including fast harness racing and slow 2,450-pound oxen pulls. (During a three-minute period, the animals pull a sled piled with concrete blocks totaling the designated weight.)

We confess that we didn’t rise to the occasion and attend the Yeast Roll Judging, which we have to put in the really slow category, notwithstanding its many ardent fans. Mind you, we have nothing against the really slow moments here; some of the slowest – as when owners and animals simply are waiting to be called into an arena – can be studies in magnificent power at rest:

To see larger versions of the above images, as well as a few more images of the Fair, click on the link below. (We suggest that your initial viewing be in full-screen mode. To do that, click on the Slideshow icon [>] above the featured [largest] image in the gallery to which the link will take you.) Here’s the link:



Barbara and Dick