The Common Ground Country Fair, shown here in 2019, will be held in person again for the first time in three years Sept. 23-25 in Unity. Photo by John Williams

For the first time since 2019, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association plans to hold its Common Ground Country Fair in person on Sept. 23-25 in Unity.

Following two years of virtual fairs forced by the pandemic, the association will bring the popular celebration of rural living back to the Common Ground Education Center in Unity, home of its country fair since 1998.

The layout of fair attractions has been reorganized to decrease crowd congestion and improve social distancing opportunities, according to Jennifer Wilhelm, director of communications and outreach for the association.

“After two long years and a lot of planning, we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the fairgrounds and supporting a safe and healthy event,” said April Boucher, the fair’s director.

As usual, the event will feature hundreds of exhibitors and activities focused on sustainable living, from fiber arts to green building, along with live music, kids’ games and organic food from around the state. The fair also includes talks from speakers that include Frances Moore Lappé, author of “Diet for a Small Planet”; Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation tribal ambassador; and Muhidin Libah, executive director of the Somali Bantu Community Association in Maine.

Wilhelm said in past years, as many as 60,000 people attended the Common Ground fair, which is held entirely outdoors. But the ongoing pandemic makes organizers uncertain about what kind of crowd to expect this year.


“We’re hopeful people will come out, but with COVID still in process, it’s hard to say,” she said.

Tickets are for sale on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association website. Tickets will be available until Sept. 21 at advance prices of $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and teens 13-17. Children 12 and under are free.


Slab’s 12-inch rising crust frozen cheese pizzas are now stocked at 18 Hannaford supermarkets. Photo by Benjamin Moore

Nosh Kitchen Bar on Congress Street sold last week to a trio of local restaurateurs, allowing one of the former owners to focus on his budding frozen pizza business at Slab Sicilian Street Food.

“It kind of seemed time” for the sale, said Jason Loring, who co-owned the 12-year-old Nosh with Matt Moran and Tobey Moulton. The sale to Michael Fraser, Michael Barbuto and Kevin Doyle, owners of CBG Bar & Grill closed last week.

“During COVID, we realized we’d outgrown the business,” Loring said. “We felt like doing something different.”


Loring expects the new ownership to largely stay the course at Nosh and not make dramatic changes. The new team could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

As for Loring, the sale means he can home in on frozen pizza sales at Slab, which he owns. Slab’s frozen pies, plain cheese featuring a rising crust, were added to 18 Hannaford supermarkets this spring, he said.

Slab had sold frozen pizzas in Maine stores for about four years. The pies are now stocked in about 60 small stores and markets statewide, Loring said, noting that the product was the brainchild of recently deceased Slab co-founder and master pizza baker Stephen Lanzalotta.

“It’s a really amazing frozen pizza,” Loring said of the Slab 12-inch rising crust cheese pizza, $14.99 at Hannaford. “It sounds ridiculous to talk about frozen pizza this way, but it’s true.” Loring said “respect for the dough” accounts for much of the difference, noting that the crust doesn’t get overworked, giving it larger air pockets and a lighter chew.

The Hannaford account has the potential to take that segment of the nationally esteemed Sicilian pizza restaurant’s business to the next level. Emily Kingsbury, a Slab owner and managing partner, said the company opened a small production space for the frozen pizzas on Oak Street this spring to help meet the increased demand.

“We want to grow that business, eventually all the way across the country,” Loring said.



A new cocktail bar has launched beneath the Italian restaurant Via Sophia by the Sea in Kennebunk, aiming to meet the needs of late-night revelers.

The Rabbit Hole, at 27 Western Ave., is open Wednesday through Sunday until midnight, the town’s latest operating hours, according to bar spokespeople, who touted the venue’s “cheeky cocktails” and “decadent light bites,” including pork rinds and whoopie pies.

The bar also offers live music and events. For the schedule, visit The Rabbit Hole online.


A massive cookie bake is underway at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Federal Street, where volunteers are preparing more than 7,000 cookies for the parish’s annual Italian Bazaar this weekend.


St. Peter’s 96th Italian Bazaar is set for Friday and Saturday from 5-9:30 p.m. Organizers estimated the volunteers will use 120 dozen eggs, 200 pounds of sugar and 350 pounds of flour to bake the anise, filled and lemon cookies they’ll need for the event, along with cannoli, pizzelles, tiramisu, almond cream cake and limoncello cake.

“We now have multiple generations working on the cookie bake,” said Nancy Taliento-Goodwin, a St. Peter’s parishioner for six decades, who noted that ages of the volunteers baking Tuesday and Wednesday range from 10 to 93. “It’s a way to have the younger generations start to volunteer.”

Along with food and pastries, the event also will feature children’s games and live music from Jim Ciampi Band on Friday and national accordion champion Cory Pesaturo on Saturday.


Bowdoinham’s Dandelion Spring Farm recently announced plans for its Harvest Feast, a farm-to-table dinner this fall.

Set for Sunday, Oct. 9, the dinner is expected to feature contemporary American dishes from guest chef Kristie Rudolph, who will draw on her Korean-American heritage. Rudolph’s husband, Peter, is executive chef at Ocean at Cape Arundel Inn in Kennebunkport.

The multi-course dinner spotlights seasonal produce and local proteins, organizers said. Cocktail Mary, a queer-friendly cocktail bar in Portland’s East End, will serve beverages. Tickets are $150 for the dinner, available at the Dandelion Spring Farm website.

Dandelion Spring Farm is certified organic and grows vegetables and herbs on unceded Wabanaki tribe land.

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