CLINTON — Maine Farm Days, the yearly agricultural trade show held at Misty Meadows Farm, is important to all farms, period, John Stoughton said Monday.

With his family Stoughton owns the dairy farm on 308 Hill Road in the town that calls itself the dairy capital of Maine, the site of Maine Farm Days since 2011. The farm has 1,400 acres and 1,200 animals.

While the free, two-day event is on a dairy farm, it draws farmers of all kinds — dairy, beef, vegetable — to Clinton to check out new technology and demonstrations.

“It’s a showcase of everything that’s available to farmers,” Stoughton said. But besides that the fair is also an educational tool for the public.

The fair, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, has a tent with a learning center dedicated to children’s activities this year, Stoughton said.

“A lot of kids today don’t know where food comes from,” he said.

Educating children and the public about their food’s origins and the work farmers do is an important part of the volunteer-run event.

Maine Farm Days was originally started in 1969 to allow mostly dairy farmers to be “good neighbors,” said Dale Finseth, executive director at the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District. The fair was an opportunity for farmers to show the public their clean operations and good practices. Fellow farmers could see techniques or equipment that others were using. It also let the public see where their milk, butter, cheese and other products came from.

Now the fair is more family-oriented, Finseth said. People will have opportunities to talk with farmers about what they do, although there will still be agricultural sellers there for farmers. The fair is also a good opportunity for those involved in agricultural activities as a hobby, like gardeners, to learn more or find out about the latest technology.

This year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service will bring a rain simulator to demonstrate how different cover crop practices will be affected by rainfall, Finseth said. The demonstration will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and 11:15 a.m. on Thursday.

Maine Farm Days has been held at a number of farms over the years, Finseth said. Usually a farm will hold it for a couple of years before it moves on, as it can be a hindrance to farm operations. But Misty Meadows has continued hosting Maine Farm Days for five years because it’s easier to stick to one place, Stoughton said. His farm is centrally located, has enough space and provides good access for vendors, and it doesn’t get in the way of daily operations, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of good volunteers,” he said.

The fair usually draws about 2,500 to 3,200 people over the two days, although it’s hard to count because people don’t need to buy tickets to attend, Finseth said.

Maine Farm Days will have sheep herding demonstrations, children’s bike drawings, pie eating contests and milking contests in addition to exhibitions and demonstrations on cover crops and pesticides. Guided conservation wagon tours pulled by tractors will be held throughout the day for free, and people can also take self-guided tours.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour