Two of Maine’s Biggest Agricultural Fairs Are Going Virtual
The exhibition halls are closed, but you can still support your favorite vendors.
Photographed by Michael D. Wilson
By Marta Denny
The cancellation of more than two dozen of Maine’s agricultural fairs left a seasonal hole this year for folks who love fried dough, ox pulls, petting zoos, and homemade elderberry-elixir taste tests. For the hundreds of mom-and-pop Maine vendors who typically set up shop there, it means a significant loss of revenue in an already tough year.
Thankfully for them (and us), two of the biggies are launching “virtual fairs” this fall, complete with online marketplaces of familiar crafts, tools, specialty foods, and more. Virtual fairgoers at both the slightly crunchy Common Ground Country Fair (September 25–27) and the more proletarian Fryeburg Fair (October 4–11) can click their way across maps of virtual fairgrounds. Want one of those cute turned-wood salt mills you admired last year, but can’t remember the vendor’s name? Find where-ish on the map you recall the stall, then click to browse and buy.
Planners Jean Andrews and April Boucher, of Fryeburg and Common Ground, respectively, both say they’re aiming to recreate the chatty, instructional ambiance of the crafts tent and the fiber-arts strip, posting video clinics, some of them livestreamed, and interviews with artisans sharing their origin stories. Is no autumn complete without rummaging through stacks of colorful quilts from 27-year Fryeburg Fair veteran Crystal Creations? Peruse a clickable gallery. Was this the year you were going to grab a hand-printed, hand-sewn organic-cotton tote bag from Common Ground stalwarts Madder Root? That fair’s virtual marketplace will stay open through the end of the year, to facilitate holiday shopping. Go all fall without supporting our favorite Maine makers? Virtually impossible.