I haven’t gone to a fair in many decades. Nothing against them, but the spirit just hasn’t moved me to attend. But last week when a friend called and invited me to go with him to the Blue Hill Fair, I jumped at the chance.

I still don’t care for the rides, nor does fair food interest me. But thankfully, the Blue Hill Fair is still an agricultural fair and in that regard I was not disappointed. Horse-pulling still fascinates me. The sheer power of those giant draft animals instills a sense of wonder. And the beef and dairy cows are always fun to check out.

I had hoped that the fair would have some horned Dorset sheep, since I used to raise that breed. But alas, no Dorsets. The other sheep were all wrapped up in protective blankets to keep the sawdust and dirt off their coats until they could enter a judged showing, so the sheep department left something to be desired.

But then there were the miniature goats, tiny goats, cute as buttons, “cunnin’” as can be. Their side-mounted goat eyes with uniquely shaped pupils. I always wonder what a goat’s picture of its surroundings looks like.

Domestic rabbits, Angoras and other fur-types were well-represented too, as were swine. Everyone loves bunnies and baby pigs.

Vegetable Winners

What I had hoped to see, more than anything, was the vegetable exhibit. Here, are displayed not only outstanding specimens of various vegetables, but also examples of new hybrids.

I was never big on giant vegetables such as the Goliath pumpkins people painstakingly raise. But to my amazement, I saw two zucchini squash, the biggest I had ever seen, bigger than I would have believed a zucchini could grow. One was the size of your average German Shepard. It was colossal.

The raiser almost certainly had to have used the same growing techniques used by giant pumpkin growers. Allow fruit to form on the vine then remove all but two and allow them to grow until one displays greater vigor then remove the other, leaving just one fruit to get all the nourishment. It’s hard to imagine anyone going to all that trouble for a zucchini, but the results sure were impressive. You could label one “The Zucchini That Ate Frankfort.”

Blueberry cherry tomatoes Tom Seymour

But enough of the bizarre. Some of the standard varieties really caught my eye. One, a cherry tomato called “Blueberry Tomato,” was the color of blueberries and with a slight stretch of the imagination, you could well imagine one of these being a very large blueberry.

Some of the other offerings were examples of how our produce should look in an ideal situation. “Torpedo” bunching onions, one of my favorites, were about as big as they get and despite that, were well-formed. Viewing these reminded me of a grievous error I made last spring when planting my bunching onions. I planted mine directly in the soil, which set them back a bit.

Also, I planted too close together, easy to do when sowing tiny seeds such as onion seeds. I tell myself I shall do better next year. That’s one of the benefits of visiting an agricultural fair. You get inspired all to bits. Viewing a perfect specimen, you tell yourself, “I can do that.” And surely you can. But without this fair-inspired inspiration, you may not have found the motivation to take whatever extra steps it takes to go for the gold.

And then you see things that you would never consider growing but when viewing them in person, become more palatable. I never cared to grow gourds, since they are inedible. But the fair had a display of multi-colored, star-shaped gourds that had I extra room, would certainly grow. We grow flowers just to look at, so why not gourds?

I left with a renewed respect for Maine’s agricultural fairs. These are not necessarily for the elite or formal gardener, but for the average old Mainer, they are just the tonic we need to inspire us for next year.