January is the worst. Pants fit a bit too snugly, wallets feel a bit too thin, and carcasses of once majestic Christmas trees can be seen everywhere decaying on top of dirty snow banks. In short, it can kind of be depressing time. It’s hard recovering from the holidays but for me, my silver lining in a dark and dismal January has always been the State of Maine Agricultural Trade Show.
It takes place the second week of January (the 10th through the 12th this year) at the Augusta civic center. This free event has things to learn, food to eat, giveaways, and can fill any old cold heart with thoughts of spring. If you are into agriculture, of any kind, or just like local made in Maine goods, this is a great excuse to get out of the house this week and there is something for everyone.
I have both attended the trade show as a curious agriculture lover and worked booths at the event as a vendor in my Moo Milk days. Here is me serving our governor delicious local organic milk circa 2014.
My favorite part of the trade show, is the local foods you can find there. I highly recommend Luce’s Meat booth if you like sausage. These folks actually grill up bite sized samples for you to try that run the gamut from sweet breakfast to extra spicy. They don’t even judge you if you got to try them all, which I always do. If fruit is your jam stop by the Umaine Cooperative Extension’s booth. You can stop by here and learn about the projects the extension is up to and the resources they provide, plus they will give you a juicy apple grown right here in Maine just for showing up. Beyond tasty samples this year, you can snag a brand new Maine Agri-tour map. This comprehensive map identifies more than 250 locations where you can purchase directly from producers and was created by Get Real. Get Maine! You’ll be able to see what is growing in your community and also it can help you map out your next foodie tour of the state.
There are also demonstrations throughout the event, I am most looking forward to Bee Keeping 101 on Thursday afternoon at 2pm.
“A talk about the function of the Queen, the workers and the drones. The life cycle of the honey bee and if time permitted a bit about the flowers bees forage on and the value of pollen and nectar to the bees. Presenter: Rick Cooper”
Of course at the heart of the trade show is the agricultural community itself. There are workshop every day on a variety of topics such as pesticide control, how to find work on a Maine farm, and even taxes. If you can’t make it to one of the workshops stop by some of the booths of the amazing agricultural services providers that will be there. The Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Farmland Trust, USDA Farm Service Agency, and many more. These booths are staffed with knowledge and downright friendly folks that want to share information with you.
There is so much to see, eat, and learn at the 76th Agricultural Trade Show and it is free to attend! They have things for kids, for serious farmers, not so serious farmers, and everyone in-between. I love local food, I am passionate about sustainability, and I am deeply proud of the agricultural community we have here in our state. Seeing it all come together every year at the Civic center in our state capitol is my slice of spring in the depths of winter.
Check out my facebook page for additional content and don’t forget to subscribe below!