Union Fair recalls region's rural roots
Ron Hawes of Union told us in March that he was the eighth in a direct line of farmers who have worked the same farm for the past 231 years in Union.
In August 2009, he was in a bad tractor accident. On the day he was released to return home after 10 days in the hospital and nursing home, he decided not to go right home and rest. Instead, he went to the Union Fair in his wheelchair.
"I have not missed one in 60 years," he said at the time.
When a farmer with that much history in the community makes that decision, there must be more to the fair than a few rides and competitions.
The Union Fair is one of the few remaining agricultural fairs, a place where farmers come to celebrate their way of life, share their successes and learn from each other.
This year marks the 141st Union Fair and 51st Maine Wild Blueberry Festival, running from Aug. 21 to 28. It will include all of the rides, food, games and vendors of any summer fair in the state, but these things will be combined with animal shows and awards, blueberry pie making competitions, fireworks, and other events.
This year 10 young ladies are vying for the title of Maine Wild Blueberry Festival queen. The coronation will be held Sunday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. The crown princess and Miss Congeniality will also be named during that event.
For community children, it has long been an opportunity to see horses and pigs, chickens and cows, goats, and any number of other animals.
Few events are more unique than the annual pig scramble in which children ages 7 to 12 try to catch their own pigs.
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for small family farms to compete and survive. We are now seeing the pendulum swing back the other way, however, as attitudes in the country change.
More people have become interested in eating locally produced food and in community supported agriculture. In some Midcoast towns, many people have shown an interest in raising chickens and other small animals, even within town and city limits.
As the importance of going green is highlighted, so is the importance of supporting the local agricultural community.
So we urge residents to go out and enjoy the Union Fair again this year, keeping in mind its place in our heritage.