In Unity, Maine (September 25, 2016)
We’re in the big sky part of Waldo County, where picturesque farms cling to rolling hills and stratocumulus clouds stream above them. The sun is bright, but those clouds are gathering into family meetings; they’re beginning to cast large magic carpet shadows that sweep over the woods and pastures and us. It's getting on the cold side of chilly.
We -- and tens of thousands of others -- don't worry about the weather, though. We're making the annual pilgrimage to the renowned Common Ground Country Fair.
If there is such a thing as a serious country fair, the Common Ground is such a thing. There are no Ferris wheels or other carnival rides, nor is there a midway to shoot darts and other things at balloons and other things in the hopes of winning teddy bears and other things. This is different; it’s sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners. This is where people come to touch and inspect vegetables and animals, while getting educated on current issues that are important to Maine.
Our Internet research failed to disclose an explanation for naming the Fair the “Common Ground.” Perhaps it's a clever play on words: “common ground” is a term used for a basis on which differing people can agree; it also is a place where rural people can stand and raise food and animals. The Fair is a celebration of rural life and an attempt to educate all of us on why that life should be perfected and protected against today's threats.
A significant part of the Fair is devoted to presentations on the environment and community relations. These are not photogenic events. But, some of the hands-on education is photogenic, such as how to milk a goat.
Although this Fair is serious, that doesn’t mean it’s for the dour. This place is full of smiles that span the ages: a smiling little girl showing her pony with the help of her smiling sister, a master spinner smiling at her work.
To be sure, there are hair-raising moments, but these are more than balanced by the moments of mutual content.
It is true, however, that some of the demonstrators do give other demonstrators the evil eye and spook them.
In the end, however, we learn a secret here today: life is a colorful hula hoop. (Life is hard to get going right and even harder to keep going right, but we must continue to try, in spite of setbacks.)
You can't buy cotton candy here, but they do sell huge hula hoops.
For larger versions of these images and a few additional ones of the 2016 Common Ground Fair, click the link below. (We recommend that the initial viewing be in full screen mode, which can be achieved by using the Slideshow [>] function on the gallery to which the link takes you.) Here’s the link:
Barbara and Dick