Students Embrace Fall Traditions at the Common Ground Country Fair

This past weekend marked the return of the Common Ground Country Fair, aiming to celebrate the state’s diverse agricultural community post-pandemic. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA) hosted the fair on Sept. 23, 24 and 25 in Unity, Maine. 

Due to the prevalence of COVID-19, the Common Ground Fair was canceled in both 2020 and 2021. Bates students had traditionally attended the event each fall, and its absence was notable for many. In lieu of an in-person gathering, MOFGA hosted a live-streamed event featuring informational sessions and speaker presentations about agriculture and art in Maine. 

Maine artisans, food vendors and speakers came from all over Maine and some neighboring states. MOFGA noted that more than 1,000 exhibitors and speakers presented over the course of the weekend. 

Fair patrons could attend demonstrations such as horse harnessing, seed cleaning, cattle clipping and more. The fair also had tents where organizations dedicated to environmental, political and social activism could provide information about their respective causes. These included the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC), the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and others. 

A number of Bates students made the journey to Unity to partake in the fall tradition. The Garden Club rented two vans and was able to bring 20 students to the fair on Saturday. The 

Student spoke to the community liaison of the Garden Club, Ruby Forde ‘24, about the outing. 

Forde cited community engagement as a goal of the club saying, “We really work to get students engaged in the agricultural community beyond Bates, whether that be a Sunday stroll to the Lewiston Farmers Market, or a larger trip like this past weekend to the Common Ground Fair.”

Overall, Forde and the rest of the club believed that the outing was successful. She noted, “I overheard several people joking about how this was the first time they had ever felt overstimulated in Maine. It’s true, the crowds were huge and a bit overwhelming. But I think that’s what made the fair so special, the feelings of excitement and sense of community were tangible.”