The perks of being local – Knox County Villagesoup

Saturday, August 28, 11 a.m. This is the last day of the Union Fair and the first annual Mud Run. The terrain is very muddy and vehicles are lined up along the track as participants register.

I have attended the fair five different times to cover a variety of events over the past week. I am tired.

I arrive early to get to know the terrain. I ask the mud race organizers where I should be; they tell me that they have set up caravans for the public.

I walk across the field and choose a trailer that seems to have a good view. It’s pretty high so the climb is a struggle. I sit at a table and start writing notes and taking test photos.

Before I get too comfortable, one of the people from a nearby trailer walks up. Apparently, this trailer is not open to the public.

I apologize and go downstairs.

I walk around the field a little more, embarrassed and not knowing where to go. I need to take pictures of the race in the mud, hopefully without the crowds blocking my view.

I briefly consider asking the event organizers if there is a place away from the crowds with a good view. I’m thinking of asking the announcer if I can take space in the back of his truck, but he was already way beyond where spectators were allowed.

Finally, I notice that Charlie and Penny Crockett are installing their video camera on a trailer.

I walk over to the trailer and grab their attention. I have my press card.

“Excuse me,” I said, “do you have room for another member of the media? “

The Crocketts are a local institution.

They taught and taught at Camden-Rockport High School. After their retirement, they switched to video production.

As far back as I can remember, they broadcast local events and news. I still have the videotape from 2003, when I competed for Sea Goddess at the Lobster Festival. The video was of course shot and compiled by the Crockett’s.

They say yes, of course they have room for me. Charlie helps me up. I have a breathtaking view of the track.

I thank them and introduce myself. I tell them about the Sea Goddess tape. They are happy.

Charlie tells me that they have a backlog of many older event tapes that they wanted to digitize. This process takes time and money, however.

Penny asks me to take a picture of them on her cell phone.

We discuss the benefits of being local. Charlie tells me he thinks this gives reporters an advantage. We have built relationships and a history with the people and the region. We have connections and networks to turn to for information.

I leave around 2 p.m. after exchanging business cards with Charlie and Penny.

When I first started working at Courrier-Gazette, one of the things my boss liked was that I was local.

Now we’re playing a game. Six Degrees of Simmonds Separation.

If I dig deep enough, I relate to most of the stories that take place in The Courier-Gazette’s coverage area.

One of the candidates for Rockland City Council was my boyfriend from elementary school.

I graduated from high school with the city manager of Thomaston.

I used to babysit for the City Manager of Rockland.

These are the advantages of being local.

A mega truck competes in the first annual Union Fair Mud Race on August 28. Photo by Christine Simmonds

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