It’s been three years since people have been able to gather together for activities as diverse as chicken first aid lessons, a manure pitching competition, a lecture on growing good garlic, rug hooking and hay bale jumping.

That’s because the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity has not held an in-person event since 2019. While most of Maine’s fairs reopened in 2021, organizers of the Common Ground Fair took a cautious approach in light of a surge in COVID-19 cases and canceled the event for the second year in a row.

Because of the fair’s sharp focus on organic farming, sustainability and living in harmony with nature, Common Ground fans can’t find an easy replacement for all they get at the fair each year.

“All the folks I see at the fair are like an extended family,” said Mary Ann Portmann of Corinth, who has been volunteering at the Common Ground fair since 2007. “That’s what I’ve missed the most.”

This year’s fair runs Friday through Sunday.

While Common Ground is unique, it’s not the only Maine fair you can visit this fall for your fill of fresh air, farm animals and fair treats. Although most of Maine’s two dozen agricultural fairs are scheduled during the summer, there are still four more Maine fairs happening between now and the end of the season.


In addition to Common Ground, they include: Farmington Fair, which opened Sept. 18 and runs through Saturday; Cumberland County Fair, Sunday through Oct. 1; and Fryeburg Fair, Oct. 2-9.

Here are some highlights of what they have to offer.

FARMINGTON FAIR, Now through Saturday

A trek to the Farmington Fair gives visitors an excuse to visit Maine’s western mountains in fall. Like most Maine agricultural fairs, there are barns full of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. There are also the classic fair activities, such as horse and oxen pulls, dairy goat shows, a midway of rides and games and a fireman’s muster. But Farmington Fair is also a place for people who like a little more fast-paced action.

On Thursday and Friday night, the fair will host the Maine State Championship Truck and Tractor Pulls, where heavy-duty vehicles compete to see which can haul the heaviest load. Saturday night features a demolition derby, where people can watch courageous (if not somewhat crazy) drivers smash their vehicles into other vehicles. For $5, fairgoers can park on the track’s infield and get an up-close look at the dramatic crashes, twisting metal and smoking engines.

Admission to the fair is $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 for ages 8 to 11 and free for kids 7 and under. For more information and a schedule go to


The Common Ground Country Fair exhibition hall, seen in 2019, is hosting people once again. Photo by John Williams


The Common Ground Country Fair is all about farmers, gardeners and sustainable living. Run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, there’s a strong focus on learning. Common Ground fairgoers gather for dozens of demonstrations or talks from experts in a myriad of fields. On Friday, for instance, topics to learn about or even try include: seed cleaning, harnessing a horse, grooming cattle, archery, growing figs, or giving first aid to chickens. There are also sheepdog demonstrations, where you can watch sharp-eyed and intensely focused canines herding sheep while listening for their master’s whistle and commands.

But the fair is not just about listening and learning. There are musicians, jugglers and other performers on stages and roving the fairground. There’s a children’s area with entertainment, face painting, opportunities to make things out of used materials, hula hoops, a place where kids can bang nails for fun (under adult supervision) and a hay bale play area. Kids can climb on stacks of hay bales and jump into more hay, for a soft landing.

On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., there’s a Garden Parade around the fairgrounds, where people dress up as vegetables, flowers, insects or whatever they want. Maybe the fair’s most unusual and silliest event is the annual Harry S. Truman Manure Pitch, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, where people see how far they can shovel manure. The event is named for Truman because the former president was known for a down-to-earth vocabulary, including the use of colorful synonyms for manure.

Admission ranges from $15 to $20, free for children 12 and under. For more information and to purchase tickets online, go to

Visitor walk past the Ferris wheel during the Cumberland Fair in 2021. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

CUMBERLAND COUNTY FAIR, Sunday through Oct. 1


This fair, the closest to Portland, has pretty much everything a fair in Maine could offer. Barns full of animals, horse racing, pig racing, a sheep obstacle course, steer and oxen pulling are just some of the exhibits and activities. Then there’s the wide range of more modern and non-farm-related entertainments, including rides and midway games, plus a demolition derby on Sunday night, a freestyle motocross show on Monday, Sept. 26, and a rodeo on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

One of the really big (pun intended) draws at the Cumberland County Fair is the Giant Pumpkin/Squash Contest. It’s quite a sight to see pumpkins the size of a small camper being hauled into the fairgrounds by trucks and cranes. Some tip the scales at 1,000 pounds or more. The weigh-in for this year’s contest begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Admission to the fair is $12, free for children 12 and under. For more information and a schedule, go to

See sheep, and the folks that help keep their wool fuzzy and soft, at the Fryeburg Fair this year. Photo by Scott Linscott


Held in the Oxford County town of Fryeburg, near New Hampshire’s White Mountains, this fair occupies an incredibly scenic spot, about 75 minutes from Portland. It’s also held in October, when the area’s colorful foliage is on display. Those factors help it draw huge crowds, usually about 170,000 people during it’s eight-day run. Traffic can be rough on the weekends, especially on the roads south of Fryeburg, so organizers and longtime fair goers recommend approaching the fair from the north. The fair has hired a new ride company this year, Dreamland Amusement, and ride tickets can be bought ahead of time online, hopefully cutting down on long lines in the fairgrounds.

The Oct. 2 opening day schedule gives an idea of the kind of events and exhibits at the fair during its run, including a fireman’s muster, sheepdog trials, a pig scramble (kids running around a ring trying to catch a piglet, which they then get to keep and raise as their own), ox and draft horse pulling, sheep shows and a baking contest. One of the fair’s signature events is the Woodsman’s Field Day on Oct. 3, when people from all over North America come to compete in some 34 wood skills events, including axe throwing, crosscut sawing, log rolling and chopping.

Admission to the fair is $12, free for children under 12. For more information and a schedule, go to

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