'Back in the day': Students learn about Maine agriculture at Cumberland County Fair
CUMBERLAND — "That's how they made carpets back in the day," Pat Larrabee of Gray told a group of Mabel I. Wilson School students as they crowded around the barn loom she was operating Monday at the Cumberland County Fair.
The demonstration of this authentic 1820 machine for the second-grade students was one of many events going on during Monday's Maine Agricultural Day, the second day of the week-long 138th annual fair.
Maine Agricultural Day was first held 14 years ago, according to coordinator Carolyn Small of Cumberland. She said this year's event drew about 1,000 mostly elementary school children from 15 schools in Cumberland, Portland, South Portland, Minot, Sebago, Raymond and Mechanic Falls.
Small pointed out that Maine's history is rich in farming, particularly the Cumberland County area. "I don't think people realize, kids particularly, that you don't just go to the grocery store and pick up corn," she said. "It has to come from someplace. So they learn that type of thing."
Part of the students' learning involved hands-on activities like making their own butter. They also saw the process of making maple syrup, as well as antique tools at an agricultural museum, a blacksmith at work, wool spinners, a scarecrow contest and an array of farm animals.
"This is an agricultural fair, so we're trying to teach them things agricultural," Small said.
It's a field trip that transcends the classroom textbook experience. Dawn Metivier, a special education technician at the Wilson school in Cumberland, said the students with her were there not to eat candy or go on rides, but to engage in agricultural learning.
"And the kids are loving it," she said.
The fair concludes on Saturday, Oct. 3. Admission is $9 on Friday and Saturday for people 13 and older, and free for children 12 and younger.
Go to cumberlandfair.com for a full schedule of events.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.