For the first time since 2019, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association plans to hold its Common Ground Joint Fair in person Sept. 23-25 at Unity.
After two years of pandemic-forced virtual fairs, the association will bring the grassroots celebration of rural life back to the Common Ground Education Center in Unity, home of its rural fair since 1998.
The layout of fairground attractions has been rearranged to reduce crowd congestion and improve opportunities for social distancing, according to Jennifer Wilhelm, the association’s director of communications and outreach.
“After two long years and a lot of planning, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the fairgrounds and supporting a healthy and safe event,” said April Boucher, Fair Director.
As usual, the event will feature hundreds of exhibitors and activities focused on sustainable living, from fiber arts to green building, as well as live music, children’s games and food. biologicals from all over the state. The fair also features talks from speakers that include Frances Moore Lappé, author of “Diet for a Small Planet”; Maulian Dana, Tribal Ambassador for the Penobscot Nation; and Muhidin Libah, executive director of the Somali Bantu Community Association in Maine.
Wilhelm said that in recent years up to 60,000 people have attended the Common Ground Fair, which is held entirely outdoors. But the ongoing pandemic is making organizers uncertain about what kind of crowds to expect this year.
“We’re hoping people will come out, but with COVID still going on, it’s hard to say,” she said.
Tickets are on sale on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association website. Tickets will be available through September 21 at an advance price of $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and teens 13-17. Children 12 and under are free.
NOSH SOLD, FORMER OWNER PLANS TO SELL FROZEN PIZZA
Nosh Kitchen Bar on Congress Street was sold last week to a trio of local restaurateurs, allowing one of the former owners to focus on his fledgling frozen pizza business at Slab Sicilian Street Food.
“It kind of seemed like time” for the sale, said Jason Loring, co-owner of the 12-year-old Nosh with Matt Moran and Tobey Moulton. The sale to Michael Fraser, Michael Barbuto and Kevin Doyle, owners of CBG Bar & Grill, was completed last week.
“During COVID, we realized we had outgrown the business,” Loring said. “We wanted to do something different.”
Loring expects the new owner to largely stay the course at Nosh and not make any dramatic changes. The new team could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
As for Loring, the sale means he can focus on frozen pizza sales at Slab, which he owns. Slab’s frozen pies, plain cheese with a rising crust, were added to 18 Hannaford supermarkets this spring, he said.
Slab had been selling frozen pizza in Maine stores for about four years. The pies are now stocked in about 60 small stores and markets across the state, Loring said, noting that the product was the brainchild of Slab’s recently deceased co-founder and pizzeria master Stephen Lanzalotta.
“This is truly amazing frozen pizza,” Loring said of the Slab 12-inch Rising Crust Cheese Pizza, $14.99 at Hannaford. “It sounds ridiculous to talk about frozen pizza that way, but it’s true.” Loring said “respecting the dough” explains much of the difference, noting that the crust is not overloaded, giving it larger air pockets and a lighter chew.
The Hannaford account has the potential to take this segment of the nationally renowned Sicilian pizzeria business to the next level. Slab spokeswoman Emily Kingsbury said the company opened a small frozen pizza production space on Oak Street this spring to meet increased demand.
“We want to grow this business, eventually across the country,” Loring said.
A RABBIT HOLE OPENS AT KENNEBUNK
A new cocktail bar has launched under Italian restaurant Via Sophia by the Sea in Kennebunk, aiming to cater to the needs of late-night revelers.
The Rabbit Hole, at 27 Western Ave., is open Wednesday through Sunday until midnight, the last hours in town, according to spokespersons for the bar, who raved about the “cheeky cocktails” and ” decadent light bites,” including pork rinds and whoopie pies.
The bar also offers live music and events. For the schedule, visit The Rabbit Hole online.
BIG BAKE FOR THE BAZAAR
A huge cookie bake is underway at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Federal Street, where volunteers are baking more than 7,000 cookies for the parish’s annual Italian bazaar this weekend.
The 96th St. Peter’s Italian Bazaar is scheduled for Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Organizers estimated that volunteers will use 120 dozen eggs, 200 pounds of sugar and 350 pounds of flour to bake the cookies at the anise, filled and with lemon that they will need for the event, as well as cannoli, pizzelle, tiramisu, almond cream cake and limoncello cake.
“We now have several generations working on the cookie baking,” said Nancy Taliento-Goodwin, a St. Peter’s parishioner for six decades, who noted that the ages of the volunteers who bake on Tuesdays and Wednesdays range from 10 to 93 years old. “It’s a way to get younger generations to start volunteering.
In addition to food and baked goods, the event will also feature children’s games and live music from the Jim Ciampi Band on Friday and National Accordion Champion Cory Pesaturo on Saturday.
DANDELION SPRING FARM HOSTS HARVEST DINNER
Dandelion Spring Farm in Bowdoinham recently announced plans for its Harvest Feast farm-to-table dinner this fall.
Scheduled for Sunday, October 9, the dinner is expected to feature contemporary American dishes from guest chef Kristie Rudolph, who will draw inspiration from her Korean-American heritage. Rudolph’s husband, Peter, is executive chef at Ocean at Cape Arundel Inn in Kennebunkport.
The multi-course dinner highlights seasonal produce and local proteins, organizers said. Cocktail Mary, a queer-friendly cocktail bar in Portland’s East End, will serve drinks. Tickets are $150 for dinner, available on the Dandelion Spring Farm website.
Dandelion Spring Farm is certified organic and grows vegetables and herbs on unceded Wabanaki Tribe land.