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Annual Workers’ Welcome Fair Ushers In Downeast Blueberry Season

Ari Snider
Maine Public
Harvest calendars in three languages - Spanish, Haitian Creole, and English - arranged on a table at the fair on Thursday.

Blueberry season is getting underway, and that means hundreds of migrant workers who rake and process Maine’s iconic wild berries are arriving in the state. To welcome the workers, several support organizations participated in a resources fair in Cherryfield on Thursday, offering everything from legal aid to COVID-19 vaccines.

The annual Welcome and Resource Fair was put on by Mano en Mano, a nonprofit that supports farm workers and immigrants, primarily in Hancock and Washington counties.

The event, held at the Maine Seacoast Mission building in Cherryfield, offered a one-stop-shop for a range of services, including food assistance and clothing donations.

This year, Mano en Mano partnered with the Maine Mobile Health Program to offer COVID-19 vaccines at the fair. Lisa Tapert, Executive Director of the program, said she was encouraged by what she’s seeing.

"So a lot of people are coming in vaccinated, and anybody who’s not vaccinated, we offer the vaccine to them,” Tapert said. “And so I think it's a better year than it was last year in all kinds of ways.”

Even with the higher vaccination rates, a steady stream of people lined up to get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine Thursday evening.

In addition to the vaccine, workers could also speak with a representative from Pine Tree Legal Assistance, which has supported farm workers in labor and housing disputes, and a case manager from Preble Street, the social services organization.

Mano en Mano will hold another welcome fair on Thursday, August 5.