By 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the cars that usually line Main street and Union street in Vineyard Haven were gone. One hundred and twenty-five booths lined the two streets instead, and by 6:30 p.m., with the official start of the Tisbury Street Fair, waves of people filled downtown.
Entering the street fair from any direction revealed a scene of excitement and smiles. The experience was pure sensory overload, with scents from an assortment of foods wafting up and down the roadway, melodies coming from the different performers, and flashing colors from painted faces, balloons and glow necklaces.
Along Union street, while jazz notes streamed through the air, young children took turns riding miniature horses or just hugging, petting and kissing the animals. Jennifer Searle, who owns Pitch Pine Miniature Horses with her husband, Thomas, decided to bring Oliver and Tyi to the fair to provide free rides. "I am loving it," said Mrs. Searle. "I have had these horses all my life and I am doing more and more with them. I thought, 'Why not the Street Fair this year, adding it to our list of things to do?' " Mrs. Searle held onto the miniature horse as a young boy embraced him around the neck, while Tyi was out giving a ride to a beaming young girl.
Across the street was the source of all that jazz: John Parker, a 13-year-old from Madison, Conn., was fingering his alto saxophone, and his friend Eric Cantey stood blowing his trombone. Sometimes they played together, sometimes they went on their solo trips. At their feet a sign read: "New Orleans or Bust!" They belong to the Connecticut Youth Jazz group and were raising money for their trip to New Orleans next year.
A face painting booth sponsored by P.A.W.S., a nonprofit animal welfare organization working to find homes for the Island's strays and abandoned dogs and cats, was busy. "It's been very interesting. All the worker's from Mad Martha's came here in the beginning and got their faces painted to get in the spirit of the street fair. Some have painted on cat faces, angels, ninja warriors, an Irish flag, a shamrock," said Chelle Neekie, a volunteer for P.A.W.S.
Up along Main street, Le Grenier's booth was out again this year, its 23rd year at the fair. Owner Jean Dupon worked his magical art with his famous Caesar salad, quiche, and was busy preparing his profiteroles for a long line of eager customers. "This is a good break from the kitchen," said Mr. Dupon. "I can play, joke and see all the smiles. It's something I look forward to. It is always a super night."
Along the street, voices could be heard calling, "I want to go back there and get a profiterole," and, "I am going to buy one of those sausage rolls with peppers."
Out in front of Bowl and Board, The Vineyard Sound, an all-male, 10-member a cappella singing group, entertained a crowd. Andrew Lefkowits, business manager of the group and singer, said, "This is the first time we are at the street fair. Any time we can sing for a lot of people it is great. This is a very good time, and we're letting people know where we'll be performing on the Island." The group has members from Skidmore, Connecticut College and Wesleyan. Every Friday at 7 and 9 p.m. they will perform at St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, just one of the many places they will be singing at this summer.
There was more music at the beginning of Main street sponsored by the Vineyard Assembly of God. A monitor and two speakers gave performers the opportunity to fill the street with music. A solo performance by Andrea Vought, a Martha's Vineyard Regional High School student, added an angelic voice to the revelry. Around 8 p.m., Pastor Greg Bar stood at the microphone, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing classic hits including James Taylor tunes. Other booths were set up for business exposure. The Martha's Vineyard Wellness Center in West Tisbury had a booth set up and was giving massages for a dollar a minute. "We are trying to let people know that we are here. A lot of people have a misconception that to use our facility you have to have a membership. You don't. We have things for younger kids as well like break dancing and hip hop," said the center's founder and medical director Dr. Curtis Cetrulo. "This is a great night for it, not too hot, and with lots of people coming by it's a great opportunity to get the word out."
Several students of the fifth grade class from the Tisbury School used the parking lot behind Leslie's Drugstore for an assortment of games - a ring toss, beanbag throw and a fishing pool - to raise money for their trip on the Shenandoah next June. Ernie Boch allowed the class to use his parking lot and the five dollars to park there went toward the trip.
Another fundraising booth was for the First Baptist Church on Spring street. The "deacon's table," so-called, presented slices of cheesecake for three dollars. The money raised went to the renovation fund for the church.
The flow of people calmed by 8:30 p.m., and there was more space to enjoy each booth and amble about freely. Everyone's spirits were uplifted and the rain that held off was a gift for all. It came and went - perhaps too fast - the 30th Annual Tisbury Street Fair has now drifted into the memories of summer.