Beloved farm animals can hold a place in hearts many years after they are gone.
Kevin Martin and his wife, Blair, had to sell their Rockport farm four years ago when their careers pulled them reluctantly away from the farming life, but they never forgot their Dexter heifers, Ruby and Maude.
Now, Ruby and Maude will live on as the stars of this year’s Common Ground Country Fair poster.
At the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta last week, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) announced the winning design for the 2019 Common Ground Country Fair poster contest: featuring the heads of two Dexter heifers framed by springs of oats and crimson clover. This year’s winning artist, whose design stood out from more than 90 submissions from Mainers and MOFGA members, was Martin.
“The Dexters were the most rewarding experience both because of how easy they were to raise and the personality that they brought to our farming experience,” Martin said. “I thought it would be great to immortalize them.”
The Dexter cattle is a versatile poster child for this year’s festivities. It is not only a heritage breed, but a triple purpose breed that can be used for dairy, meat and draft power on a farm or homestead.
“The Dexter cattle is a dairy breed, which is something we really want to talk more about really valuing our dairy livestock,” said April Boucher, Common Ground Country Fair director. “They do really well foraging and can thrive on potentially not ideal landscapes.”
Bouchard explained that aside from the first few years of the Common Ground Country Fair’s 43-year history, the poster’s design has been chosen annually through a contest juried by members of the fair steering committee and the MOFGA board of directors.
“We’re very fortunate to get all kinds of great artists from the state of Maine,” Bouchard said (though submission is open to all MOFGA members, who, according to Bouchard, live around the world). “We’re looking for not only a beautiful image, but something that represents an aspect of rural life.”
Though Martin is not an artist by trade, he holds a degree from the Washington University in St. Louis in fine arts focused primarily on sculpture and has been making art as long as he can remember.
“As a young child, I was always drawing and painting. While I love to build things, I would always go back to painting and drawing,” Martin said. “As my career has taken me in many different directions, I continue to at least draw when I can.”