Sunday, October 7, 2012

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (The Common Ground Fair)

It's bald, but I think it's supposed to be like that. Who breeds bald chickens?
The Common Ground Fair is held near the end of September ever year in Unity, Maine. It's run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, which should tell you right off this is not the kind of fair with ferris wheels and fried dough.
Quail eggs
Well, no, there is fried dough, but it's made with whole wheat flour and sweetened with honey or maple syrup. No refined white sugar at the Common Ground! (Plenty of salt, though, so that's going to have to be the mineral I promised in the title.) I love the CGF, and I'm not sure why, because it's terribly expensive (for a fair) and since I'm always there with kids I don't get to go to all the interesting lectures and workshops. Maybe it's because the animals and produce get star billing? Or because the food is usually amazing? Or there's such a variety of interesting people to watch?
A colorful, not-bald chicken. Much prettier. Well, he's a rooster, so I guess he's handsome, not pretty.
This year, the 6th graders went to the fair on a school field trip and I went along as a chaperone. I love chaperoning field trips - I usually learn a lot, both about whatever we're studying and about the kids I'm watching. I'm always torn between photographing and chaperoning, but I haven't lost any kids yet, and I usually come home with one or two shots worth posting.
Our trip to the fair was a little less organized than our usual National Park trips, though (god bless park rangers, they are so good at crowd control!), and even though I only had six girls who have been best friends since kindergarten, getting them around the fair was like herding cats. The minute we entered, they all headed straight for the rabbit barn, but once we wore out the bunnies (and I flatly refused to let anyone buy a baby rabbit to bring home on the school bus) it was utter chaos. This one wanted these particular french fries and that one saw a doll and wanted to find the booth selling them, and that other one wanted to try hula hoops.... complete madness.
red, crimson, scarlet, yellow
heritage corn varieties
Until we got to the produce section, that is, and the girls discovered these:
squash, yellow, green
Miniature gourds! There were also tiny pumpkins, only a couple of inches tall, and itty bitty honey bears ...
oh, I was all set for at least fifteen minutes of peacefully photographing vegetables while the girls zoomed from one booth to another squealing over doll-sized squash. (Apparently the very latest thing in 6th-grade coolness??) So what with one thing and another, I have lots and lots of vegetable photos. Fortunately, the Common Ground Fair farmers specialize in heritage varieties, which are very colorful:
scarlet, red, Native American, Indian Corn
there was red corn, 
 purple carrots,

turquoise tomato basket
 orange and red cherry tomatoes,

common ground fair
 blue squash,

carved pumpkin
 and romantic pumpkins! 
(This was done by scratching the words into the pumpkin when it was small. As it grew it produced woody tissue in the cuts.)

Hungry yet?

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