The Common Ground Country Fair
The first time I ever attended MOFGA’s, (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association), Common Ground Country Fair I posted this on Facebook:
“Oh my soul.
You know when you wander into the music building at college and you really truly realize that you could not be more out of place? (okay, maybe you don't.) Or when the violin teacher uses the Suzuki method & all you want to do is drop off your kid? Or you're at someone else's house on a Sunday afternoon & they are football fanatics & you've never once watched a game and you just really don't BELONG in that group?? Well... today I had the opposite experience. Mom, Dad & I went to the Common Ground Fair, which I realize has been around forEVER, but was my first time & … it was SO, SO much "where I belong!" … I attended a session on planting apple trees & another one on at-home funerals & gained info about goat care & it was all just amazing… I cannot WAIT to go back…”
Little did I know that 6 years later I would be back, as a vendor, selling my goat milk soap!! I had 3 sunny, beautiful days at the Common Ground Fair. I’m so thankful for my friends who purchased soap and for all my new customers! It was a financially successful weekend and I plan to return next year.
I had a lot of compliments on my booth and was able to share that it was a group effort! I borrowed canopy tents from 2 friends. I borrowed tables from 2 friends. I traded soap for a large chalkboard sign! I borrowed containers from 4 people! We used panels from the booth my husband uses at shows for his business. My husband has been very supportive. He helped me set up the booth, helped me take it down, and we also did a trial mock up in our yard the week before the fair, to work out how to set it all up and make it work! My son, my mother, and my friend each spent a day with me at the fair, keeping me company and allowing for bathroom breaks! I truly feel supported and loved!
The experience I have gained in just the past year’s worth of craft shows was quite helpful for me, in doing a large venue like the Common Ground Fair. This was evident to me in several areas.
I can handle making small talk with a large number of people much more than I could even a year ago! After my first show with my guild, I was exhausted! As an introvert, my words were used up, my eyes hurt, and I could barely think! I’ve learned what questions people typically ask. I can speak from a place of authenticity. I don't have to remember a script. I can talk easily from my experience of milking my goats and making soap. I don't come across like a sales person, I speak truthfully and my genuine passions are obvious.
I always have competition. There are always other people selling soap and often others selling goat milk soap. I have learned, from the wonderful example of a soap lady in my guild, (The United Maine Craftsman Guild), to show kindness to my competitors. I genuinely hope they do well! I made the effort to introduce myself to my two nearest goat milk soap neighbors, and wished them well.
Take what comes as a gift! I always have at least one knitting project with me when I’m out at a show, selling soap. I have a long “to do” list at home, but at a show, I can just sit and enjoy! It’s easy to have unrealistic hopes about sales, but I once was at a show with almost no attendees, and a vendor made a deep impression on me. She was so joyful, interested in the few people who came, and not concerned about sales. Am I at a show to sell soap? Absolutely. But the conversation with my booth neighbor, the music, the slow-paced day, the friends who stop by- They are all part of the gift.
If you have never been to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine- Mark your calendars for September 2020! You will not regret it!