The 40th Common Ground Country Fair runs Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23 through 25, at the home of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association on the Crosby Brook Road. Gates open at 9 a.m. daily, rain or shine. Common Ground celebrates rural and sustainable living in Maine via vendors, demonstrations, entertainment and exhibitions featuring traditional skills, talent, local organic food and made-in-Maine crafts.

The fair's activities are spread out over 40-plus acres of well-tended land including perennial gardens, walkways and orchards. As befits a true agricultural fair, there are animals — draft horses and ponies, dairy cattle and oxen, donkeys and mules, goats and sheep, poultry, rabbits and guinea pigs, llamas and alpacas, pigs and sheep dogs, the latter demonstrating their skills three times each day.

Also in bountiful supply is produce — MOFGA's Exhibition Hall showcases thousands of garden entries organically raised throughout the state; and two large farmers' markets offer an abundance of Maine's organic produce. Other agricultural products, crafts and more … including great stuff to eat.

"Common Ground has some of the most delicious food of any fair in Maine,” said Fair Director April Boucher. “MOFGA places a great deal of emphasis on educating people about available alternatives for living healthfully, happily and comfortably in the Northeast."

In addition, the Common Ground Country Fair features a wide variety of live music and performance by artists with Maine roots. Venues include the fairground's open Amphitheater, the intimate Spotlight Stage, the Maine Folk Traditions tent and, for younger audience members, the Sunflower Stage in the Children’s Area. There also are roving entertainers out and about the fairgrounds.

Volunteers are needed during fair set-up Sept. 13 through 22; during the fair itself; and during fair cleanup, Sept. 26 through 30 plus Oct. 15. Volunteers who work a four-hour shift receive an organic cotton fair T-shirt illustrated with this year's artwork; a hearty meal from the Common Kitchen; and free admission to the fair. Anyone who wishes to volunteer should come to the fairgrounds, where coordinators will assign shifts as needed. Fair organizers especially need help during the cleanup; cleanup volunteers wishing to receive free admission to the fair should check in at the Volunteer Registration Tent.

Discounted advance tickets are on sale through Sunday, Aug. 18, at outlets throughout Maine; Midcoast outlets include the Belfast Co-op and The Green Store, Belfast; Good Tern Co-op and Huston-Tuttle, Rockland; Nature's Choice, Camden; Mac's Hardware, Union; and Liberty Graphics.

Tickets are free for MOFGA members, children younger than 13, handicapped citizens and fair volunteers, as well as for Friday school groups. Otherwise, daily admission is $10 advance, $15 at gate for those age 13 to 64; and $8/$10 for older adults. Those who bike to the fairgrounds or take the train from Unity or Thorndike get $2 off. For more information about the fair, call 568-4142; email commonground@mofga.org; or visit mofga.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.