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August 20, 2018

Maine Farm Days offers no-frills agricultural experience on Clinton dairy farm

Photo / Maine Farm Days Facebook
Photo / Maine Farm Days Facebook
While it's an agricultural trade fair, Maine Farm Days in Clinton makes sure kids get into the act, too. The two-day event is Wednesday and Thursday at Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton.

Tucked into Maine's agricultural fair season is Maine Farm Days, a two-day symposium at a dairy farm in Clinton that pares things down to the agricultural basics.

There is no midway or zipper ride, no demolition derby at the agricultural trade show held at Misty Meadows Farm. Instead, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday this week, there are exhibits for both farmers and non-farmers that range from kid-friendly do downright farm-centric — including eight pesticide workshops by the Kennebec County Cooperative Extension that provide pesticide recertification credits for working farmers.

"It's is an extravaganza of animals, farm information, interesting people, equipment, food and entertaining displays," its website says.

The decades-old event was once organized by the Kennebec County Soil and Water and Conservation District, which still helps the farmers who now plan it answer questions and maintain the website, said Dale Finseth, of the KCSWCD. The event has been held at 1,400-acre Misty Meadows Farm, 308 Hill Road, since 2011.

Finseth said that the event has evolved from its effort to be "a good neighbor" and help people understand what a large farm does, with a focus on dairy farming, into more of an opportunity for people to learn about commercial farming in general.

He said that it usually draws 2,000 to 3,000 people over the two days.

"It has always been a place for 'farmers,', particularly dairy farmers to see new technology and products and wander around to see other farmers," he said. "Given there are many fewer dairy farms now, and many are much larger, that is not so much the case."

He said that many smaller farmers and meat producers attend, to check out the resources and take advantage of workshops.

"Unlike the regular ag fairs, it is free," he said. "It is entirely focused on farming related topics and doesn't really focus on the 'rides' and entertainment."

Events and activities include equipment dealers and educational speakers and presentations to vegetable exhibits and tractor safety and horse twitching.

But organizers stress the event is also kid-friendly, with a milking contest, kids' pedal tractor pull, a bike drawing, 4-H steer show, food and opportunities to meet the animals.

There's also a corn maze, Whoopie Pie and Wild Blueberry Pie baking contests, a poster contest, photography contest and scarecrow contest.

According to a news release earlier this year, the farm, owned by John and Belinda Stoughton and Tom and Kim Wright, has 1,200 animals. The farm will continue to operate as usual during the event, including making hay, planting and harvesting crops, and milking 500 cows three times a day.

August is the busiest time of year on a dairy farm, the owners of Misty Meadows have pointed out.

"It's always in the middle of everything," Kim Wright told the Bangor Daily News in 2013.

But she said the extra work for the family is worth it -- not only is it beneficial for farmers and others involved in agriculture, but it's an opportunity for the public to learn about agriculture and food production.

"Kids find out that milk comes from a cow, not the grocery store," Belinda Stoughton told the BDN.

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