Fall fair celebrates Common Ground

Posted Sept. 15, 2008, at 4:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:54 p.m.

Fall is the time to gather in the fruits of one’s labor. Nowhere in this many-splendored season is there a better time or place to celebrate that concept than at the Common Ground Country Fair, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 19-21, at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association fairgrounds in Unity. The fair is the place to find handmade arts and crafts, to observe demonstrations of spinning, basket weaving and other crafts and to get up close and personal with fiber animals such as sheep, alpacas and rabbits.

The American Indian area of the fair promotes the artwork, culture and basket-making traditions of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes of Maine. Visitors to the area will find beadwork, woodcarvings, moose hide drums, birch-bark items, and beaded and quilled jewelry.

The Folk Arts area presents demonstrations and classes in traditional Maine arts. Exhibits include canoe building, quilting, basket making and rug hooking, creating stenciled floor cloths and putting canvas on a canoe.

Demonstrations also will showcase the skills and talents of Maine blacksmiths as they craft traditional farm and home implements.

The Wednesday Spinners, a group of women from Down East, will celebrate their 31st consecutive year at the Common Ground Country Fair. Visitors to the fair will find the spinners in the Fleece Tent.

Now in their 33rd year of meeting every Wednesday at a different spinner’s home, the Wednesday Spinners, ranging in age from 8 to 83, will demonstrate their skills each day of the fair. Fair-goers will learn about washing, picking, carding, spinning in the grease and other aspects of creating yarn from raw fleece.

Events Friday morning include spinning with a drop-spindle and making felt balls. Other activities and talks during the weekend include choosing the right fleece and preparing it for spinning, assessing spinning equipment needs, wool combing for worsted spinning, and weaving a small tapestry on the seven-stick Journey Loom.

The in-ground, seven-stick Earthloom will be part of the fiber action each day of the fair. Pieces of driftwood and bark will be provided which will be woven into a tapestry and held in place by yarn and fabric strips. Susan Merrill of Brooksville will coordinate the event.

The Wednesday Spinners invite spinners, young and old, experienced and novice, to join them for an open spin 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21. Bring a wheel or drop spindle.

At the Fleece Tent, fair-goers will find many sheep fleeces from which to choose — white and colored; fine, medium and long staple; coarse; and fleeces from “primitive” breeds. Llama, alpaca, mohair, cashmere and angora fibers also will be available.

Spinners and growers will answer questions about choosing the right fleece for specific needs.

Speakers will give talks on topics that include choosing the right fleece for spinning, contemporary trends in felt-making, raising quality fleeces, raising sheep on Maine’s islands, a talk by the editor of Wild Fibers Magazine and a talk on the wool of the world.

In the Maine Fiber Farms area, fair-goers may visit fiber-producing animals and see the products farmers have made from the fiber harvested from the animals. Meet the sheep that grew the fleece for the yarn on display. Admire fluffy bunnies and regal llamas, and chat with the people who raise them.

The Maine Fiber Farms area will feature skilled craftspeople willing to share their knowledge of knitting, weaving, spinning, felting and other skills.

Fiber goods from raw fleece to yarn to finished goods, such as hats, mittens, socks, shawls, scarves and sweaters will be available for purchase, along with the tools for making them.

Tickets for the fair are $10 for those age 13-64, $8 age 65 and up, free to children 12 and under and to those with handicapping conditions. School groups attend free on Friday. Visit www.mofga.org to obtain more information and for a list of businesses in towns throughout Maine where advance tickets may be purchased.

Snippets

  • Michele Rose Orne will sign her new book, “Inspired to Knit: Creating Exquisite Handknits,” 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Owl and Turtle Bookshop in Camden. Orne’s work has appeared in Vogue and Interweave Knits magazines. She has designed for Classic Elite and Tahki yarn companies. For more information, call the bookstore at 236-4769.
  • The Bangor Area Chapter of the American Sewing Guild will begin its 16th season with an annual meeting and community service day 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Hampden Municipal Building on Western Avenue. Highlights of the day include breakfast, election of officers, potluck lunch and a fashion show. Members will sew polar fleece hats, socks, mitten and scarves to donate to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. For more information, visit www.BangorMEASG.com.

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