It doesn’t feel like Fall has really arrived, until I make my first trek out to Beth’s Farm Market in the picturesque rolling farmhills of Warren, Maine. It’s an autumnal equinox right-of-passage for most of us here in Midcoast Maine, as soon as the August humidity gives way to crisp mornings, when Beth’s transitions from selling the most beautiful strawberries on planet Earth, to moving miles of pumpkins, squash, and decorative gourds across their sales counters.
It’s the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon, with dozens of kids amped up on free apple cider samples and paper bowls full of strawberry shortcake, buzzing in circles while they wait for the next tractor ride out to the corn maze, where you can browse and consider the budgetary ramifications of buying $8 jars of dill pickles while you munch on exotic apple varieties and crumbly wedges of sharp cheddar cheese.
And now, for a limited time, a new batch of sights and smells has joined the scene at Beth’s Farm Market, at the hands of Dennis, the ridiculously friendly guy manning a gigantic oil drum grill loaded with Jamaican Jerk Chicken, the heat emanating from the top in glossy waves as the smell of wood and rendered chicken fat permeates the farm stand.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from noon until they sell out (which a clerk at Beth’s assures me is a regular occurrence), Dennis is grilling entire half chickens, in a savory blend of dry-rubbed jerk seasoning. $12.50 gets you a ticket to this chicken train (pay inside, then weave your way through the kids outside and hand it over to the grillmaster himself). The chicken is cooked to perfection, with a crispy outer layer of herb-entrusted skin, and moist white meat that rips easily from the bone. The spice-intolerant have little to fear here; the seasoning blend is incredibly mild, and compliments the smoke of the grill beautifully.
Go for the chicken, but stay because it’s such a weirdly awesome incongruity. Somehow, sitting outside in the grass ripping a chicken limb from limb, sipping on a blueberry soda, while listening to reggae music outside of a cornfield in the middle of a chilly Maine day seems as good a way to welcome the change of season as any.
How long is Beth’s Farm Market going to keep this new weekend tradition alive? Details are sketchy; I asked a clerk if they would be continuing the special every weekend, and she only replied, “Apparently,” so check the Beth’s Farm Market Facebook page before you make the trek.
Beth’s Farm Market: 1986 Western Road, Warren, Maine 04864. (207) 273-3695. Facebook. www.bethsfarmmarket.com.