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12 Instagram-Worthy Things We Saw at This Famous Country Fair

Every September, thousands head to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine, for a three-day celebration of local crafts, food, and organic-farming know-how. These images capture the magic of this rural-living summit, where quality and sustainability rule, and Angora bunnies steal the show.

flower crown
Photography by: John Dolan

Thirty-nine years ago this month, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association inaugurated its country fair with two humble goals: to bring the community together after harvest time to exchange ideas, and to raise funds. Since then, the event has exploded into a hot ticket for eco-minded growers, artisans, and animal breeders everywhere. (Martha and our editors also love to attend.) Today, a staggering 65,000 visitors — mostly from New England but from as far as Europe and Japan — make the pilgrimage to explore nearly 1,500 exhibitors, vendors, workshops, and demonstrations (think wool spinning, horse plowing, and tree felling).

 

"They come for the educational aspect," says fair director April Boucher, "but also to get some really awesome, innovative things made in Maine." Wendy Pieh, a cashmere-goat breeder and fair participant since 2002, sums up the gathering's vibrant spirit: "The mix of Native American tents, dog sledders, and presentations on everything from raising chickens to growing medicinal herbs is unparalleled," she says. "It's a wild and wonderful weekend."

 

Here are some of the highlights.

1. Dana Manchester and a prize-winning heritage-breed Buff turkey hen. 

turkey
Photography by: John Dolan

2. Exhibitor Mark Larrabee with two shorthorn steers. 

man with calves
Photography by: John Dolan

3. Cashmere goat breeder Wendy Pieh with 7-year-old Samson.

farmer with ram
Photography by: John Dolan

4. Christina Smith and an Angora rabbit.

woman with rabbit
Photography by: John Dolan

5. Hundreds of handmade products, like these bars of beeswax, are sold at the fair, which takes place on the third weekend after Labor Day every year.

bees wax
Photography by: John Dolan

6. Nanne Kennedy of Washington, Maine, tints sheep's wool with plant dyes and seawater.

woman with yarn
Photography by: John Dolan

7. This very colorful yarn display.

yarn
Photography by: John Dolan

8. A selection of Kennedy's wool blankets, which are woven on antique looms.

textiles
Photography by: John Dolan

9. New vendors to the fair last fall, Michael Romanyshyn and his son Maurice sell birch syrup, which they tap from more than 800 trees on their family property in Temple.

Temple Birch Tappers
Photography by: John Dolan

10. A vintage Griswold cast‐iron skillet from Maine Wood Heat Co., a family‐run wood‐burning oven business in Skowhegan.

cast iron skillet
Photography by: John Dolan

11. More than 750 vegetable entries are submitted for judging each year.

blue ribbon winners
Photography by: John Dolan

12. Herded animals in a sheepdog demonstration.

sheep
Photography by: John Dolan

Will you go this year?