Uncommon at the Common Ground Fair

Day 140 of 365

Tonight, I have a special blog post from a guest blogger—my husband. He has observed my process of writing every day and seems to admire my dedication. I was hoping, at some point, he would offer a guest blog or two. I have written about him often in my posts. Ron is also the poet and author from the journal, only he writes under “James,” his middle name. I’m excited to have him offer some insights into and, for the purposes of my little blog, a final word of sorts on our experiences at the Common Ground Fair. Truly, I was impressed by my husband’s ability to “people,” and to my surprise, I found he was better than I was most of the time. Ron always has a fantastic perspective on the events of our lives. I am happy to share that perspective with you for tonight’s post. 

A notable variety of surprisingly non-similar footwear—this was, in part, my Common Ground experience. Tilting at windmills—metaphorically of course—from the Farmer-ish “booth”— I use the word booth, but it felt more like a synthetic desert dweller’s pop-up in a hastily erected, gold-inspired, pseudo-nineteenth century future ghost town—I had ample opportunity to watch the passers by.

Normally, I initially glance at faces. After a time, however, I decided to start at the shoes, then, if inspired by a particularly interesting pair, pilot my gaze upward to glimpse the features that went with the feet. I was amazed at the diversity—in both features and feet. Seemingly, humans have an inherent need to distinguish themselves from the group while being simultaneously firmly ensconced in it.

photo credit: Steady Hand Co., Unsplash

It was a great circular migration. There was rain the night before and on the day we arrived to set up the 10 x 10 nylon nomad. Our Subaru navigated through sodden ground, widening puddles, endless mud, and ever-deepening ruts to get to our predesignated plot of hallowed vendor ground. The fair opened Friday morning; by Saturday morning, all of the ruts had been compacted and packed into fairly convincing pretend pavement. According to the Bangor Daily News, 60,000 people passed through the gates. The herd was relentless; its shoes were extremely effective pavers.

Where were they all going and what was leading or driving them? In some measure, I suppose, it was a seasonal migration—the Common Ground Fair being an annual event that occurs every fall, except when it doesn’t. To a certain degree, it also appeared to be a migration for food. On Saturday afternoon, I ventured from the safety of the nylon nomad for a bit and saw lines at the food vendors longer than the packed dirt avenues, which served as their arteries.

Perhaps defiance also stood as partial inspiration. 2020 rendered the ground in Unity, Maine uncommon and kept it that way for two consecutive years. Maybe this was humanity trying to take back its freedom. Even so, I did see the occasional “masker” quickly skirting the margins of the crowd. It did seem everyone I saw wearing a mask walked faster than those who were without masks, which, irrational though it may be, I understood.

I interacted or came close to interacting with maybe one percent of the 60,000. It was enough. I met some kind, friendly people—down-to-earth souls both generous and encouraging. I had some great conversations—even without sales. I discussed philosophy with professors and lawyers, farming and gardening practices with farmers and gardeners—both those experienced with as well as those new to the soil, and environmentalism with all who cared to. I heard a variety of stories—some more unusual than others.

There were lonely people who just wanted to talk; though introverted, I generally obliged them. One man claimed to have the secret to unlimited energy. After some in-depth engineering conversation bordering on late-night infomercial sales pitch—which seemed to go the entire thirty—he informed me he was just waiting for the right moment to reveal his miraculous technology so he could bring down the oil conglomeration and save the planet.

One harried-looking woman stopped by in a lull and told me she was a nomad who lived on the road and had done so for thirteen years. A couple minutes into the conversation she apologized for being sad and told me she was tired and hadn’t slept the previous night. She also told me she was a “targeted” individual, then blurted a couple hasty sentences about what being “targeted” meant, after which, she looked around worriedly and said, “I better go,” and walked quickly away.

Another girl handed me a small card as she walked by. “Some alternative information,” was all she said. This was early on the first day before the crowds formed, so I read her alternative information. I discovered Covid-19 is not contagious and not spread by individuals who have it. In fact, it is not a virus at all; rather, it is a type of radiation poisoning contracted from exposure to 5G. I thought about maybe trying to catch a few of the maskers, so I could give them and their features some freedom, but they were too fast. Instead, I walked next door to the trash tent, which was sedentary and deposited the card into the recycling bin. It seemed like a good alternative for the information.

I ate a lot of imported Canadian scones, drank a lot of well water brought from home, and put a fine edge on two of my pocket knives. Though not my customary mode, I learned I can be gregarious—maybe even charming—if needed. I learned I can sell journals, books, t-shirts, and bags—maybe not like a carney—but I do alright. And, after three long people-filled days punctuated by too short nights and, either white knuckle morning or nodding out night, drives, I also, like Dorothy, but without the benefit of red shoes, learned there really is no place like home. Though I do not regret the experience, next year, the ground in Unity likely will not be quite so common for me.

One thought on “Uncommon at the Common Ground Fair

  1. I enjoyed reading Ron’s perspective on being a participant at The Common Ground. There’s all walks of life out there…. interesting to observe
    up close… for a FEW days…. exhausting any more than that. 😆
    Big lines at the food trucks are not my idea of fun. 😕
    I made the long trip to The Common ground Fair about 5 years ago. Although there were some different and interesting booths… overall I was not impressed.
    My brother and I are going to the Cumberland Fair today … very close to my house….. lots of well cared for 4H animals to oggle….. music… sausages…. harness racing with beautiful horses….. AND less crowds during the week. 👍😁
    Thanks for the peek at the Fair from your booth!


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