The sun passes its autumnal equinox late this afternoon, which means it's either the last day or summer or the first day of fall, depending on how you see these things. (Sorry, "autumn" for my European readers.) The whole week is supposed to be be unseasonably warm here in Maine -- well, "warm" meaning in the 70s -- and I feel a near-desperate desire to be outside as much as possible, before the snow flies.
It's not just me. Everyone in Maine wants to be outside, and it's the season of harvest festivals. Here are five on my calendar between now and November:
1. Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, September 25–27. I'll be here on Saturday. It's a celebration of organic farming and sustainable living; if you think that sounds a little precious and smug -- and I admit I do, a little -- I've heard it has terrific food, lots of animals, and wonderful crafts. I'm especially interested to see the stonecutters' exhibition.
2. Cumberland County Fair, Cumberland, September 27–October 3. All the usual fair stuff, plus harness racing, a pumpkin contest, and maple cotton candy.
3. Fryeburg Fair, Fryeburg, October 4–11. Maine's largest agricultural fair, dating back to 1851. It's almost a two-hour drive for me to get to Fryeburg, but it's worth it: the Fryeburg Fair is everything a country fair is supposed to be. Woodsmen's Day features competitions in more than a dozen events, including axe throwing and log rolling.
4. Damariscotta Pumpkinfest, Damariscotta, October 4–12. I've never been to this, but it's on my calendar for Sunday, October 11, when the day begins with a Pumpkin Catapult & Chunkin event, and moves on to a Motorized Pumpkinboat Regatta in the afternoon. There's also a pumpkin pancake breakfast.
5. Harvest on the Harbor, Portland, October 22–24. This event is only in its second year; whether I actually get there this year will depend on how it fits in to my already-overbooked weekend. (October 24 is also the date of the first Boston Book Festival.) It's three nights and two days of classes and tastings designed to showcase Portland's food scene, which the New York Times recently cited as among the best in the country. The big event is the Food and Wine Marketplace on Saturday, from 12:00 to 4:00 at the Ocean Gateway Pier.