UNITY — The Common Ground Country Fair opened Friday after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and fairgoers were greeted with a packed schedule of events running through the weekend.

The popular fair organized by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, or MOFGA, returned for the 46th time to celebrate rural living and Maine agriculture.

This year’s schedule has a number of opportunities to listen, learn and shop, and features three keynote talks addressing Wabanaki sovereignty, sustainability and food justice. The talks are to begin each day at 11 a.m. at The Common, at the center of the fairgrounds.

Other attractions include a competition called the Manure Pitch-Off and the Saturday morning Donkey and Mule Show. There will also be demonstrations and workshops — led by more than 1,000 exhibitors — on everything from blacksmithing to composting.

Back, too, are the array of booths selling organic farm products, food and locally made crafts. Some booths are expected to offer discussions around ballot and election initiatives, environmental concerns and civil rights.

The only thing harder than leaving the fair empty-handed might be avoiding traffic. The fair’s website encourages fairgoers to be prepared to wait on the roads or in parking lots, and advises attending when crowds are likely to be smaller — on the early side of the day or Sunday.

Organizers said changes have been made this year to how the fair will operate: The ticketing system is now electronic to cut waiting times. Also, in a nod to the pandemic, the fairground features a more spacious layout, new handwashing stations and additional restrooms.

Although organizers ask fairgoers to consider wearing a face mask when in the enclosed Exhibition Hall, there are no COVID-19 mandates and attendance will not be limited in any way.

Find the full schedule of events, a list of vendors and information on how to get e-tickets at www.mofga.org.

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