Frederick’s second annual Mother Earth News Fair drew to a close Sunday afternoon with a crowd more-or-less on par with what organizers expected based on last year’s draw and the weather.

“Overall it’s a little bit lower than last year, but we also recognize that we’ve had a lot of rain this week leading up to Saturday, our opening day, being the first nice weather we’ve seen in a while so we knew we had a lot of other activities to compete with,” said Andrew Perkins, the event director for Ogden Publications, which sponsored the event along with The Frederick News-Post. Both Ogden Publications and the News-Post are owned by Ogden Newspapers, Inc.

About 4,000 people attended opening day Saturday and event coordinators were on track to see an another 2,000 attendees come through the Frederick Fairgrounds before the gates closed Sunday at 5 p.m., Perkins said.

“We’ve had a blast,” Perkins said.

Aimed at residents interested in working toward a cleaner, greener future, the fair was a boon for local and international businesses alike to reach an interested audience and potential customer base.

Lesley Flores, who operates a Rent the Chicken hub in Hagerstown, said the fair and similar events are invaluable to spreading the word about their unique service, which offers six month chicken rentals with free delivery within 50 miles of Hagerstown. Renting just two chickens can net up to 14 fresh eggs a week, and the rental service makes things even easier by offering their own coops, Flores said.

“A lot of other companies do a week or one month trial, but we like to offer something a little bit longer for people to grow accustomed to the chickens,” Flores said, explaining that renters can choose to keep the chickens or return them at the end of the six months. “... Since we’re local and we promote local businesses, we enjoy coming here because we can come and talk to local people and spread the word about what we have to offer.”

Frederick resident Ariel Polk stopped by the display for a few minutes to learn more about the unique service while her son, 15-month-old Liam Nicholson, took the chance to get up close and personal with the two chickens trotting around the display coop.

While Polk admitted the display was interesting, she was fairly certain she wouldn’t be renting any chickens anytime soon, as much as her son seemed to enjoy them.

“We live a vegan lifestyle, so my son just likes the chickens, but the idea is still pretty cool,” Polk said with a laugh. “And it’s been interesting to walk around and look at some of the displays just to see what’s out there.”

There were plenty of vegan-friendly vendors available at the fair, as well, including Justin Cherry’s Half Crown Bakehouse, which offered fair-goers the opportunity to taste different types of bread popular in the 18th Century and baked in an authentic clay oven of the type used early on in U.S. history. Having driven up from South Carolina, Cherry said he was pleased with his first experience at the Mother Earth Fair and would like to come again.

“I sold out of loaves each day and I’m baking on-site, so I was in the range of probably about 60 loaves a day,” Cherry said. “There’s been a lot of people with good questions and its been a great opportunity to talk about what I do and educate people about some of the older grains.”

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Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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