Even the sun decided to make an appearance yesterday morning for the opening of the 140th Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair.
Fifteen minutes before the fair officially opened, carloads of big and little kids lined Panhandle Road, anxious to be the first riders on the 18 carnival rides.
Inside the agricultural hall, judges deliberated over first prize winners, discussing each entry with great detail. Teams had worked into the night Wednesday, hanging blue ribbons on the best entries. Outside, a few contestants waited anxiously to see how their submissions had fared.
A sneak peak revealed a blue ribbon on Alyssa Adler’s squash-bodied vegetable sculpture. Nora MacDonald’s board game creation also won first in her category, while Hilary Rappaport’s acrylic horse painting claimed top honors in the youth art division.
Quilts were hung from the hall rafters, and giant sunflowers climbed up the poles to towering heights of 12 feet and more. Islanders’ talents will be on display to the public through the fair, which ends Sunday evening.
Outside, some parents pulled their little ones away from the neon signs and carnival music to the barn area to get up close and personal with the livestock. Goats, sheep, cows and even a Vietnamese pig wallowed in the cool shade of their pens while toddlers stood watching them at eye level.
Kaitlin Dore held her first prize goat’s leash with one hand and her new blue ribbon in the other. Her goats will be on display in the barn through the fair, and Kaitlin admits she worried about her goat spending his first nights away from home.
Wendy, a spotted Vietnamese pig, seemed completely unaware of her admirers as she burrowed into the shavings for a bit of a nap. Wendy is used to sleeping in the comfort of owner Susan Schwoch’s bed, but she didn’t seem to mind the move to the stable.
A young man stretched out on his cow like a sofa, and they both rested up for the afternoon show. In the next stall, nine-year-old Alex Watson mastered the task of making sure his cow Martha didn’t wallow in shavings before her afternoon competition.
Shaded under a tent beside the ring, children stared in awe at some peculiar animals with funny haircuts. Glenn Jackson pointed to his wife weaving a blanket and explained how they use llama fur to make clothing. Tom Vogl and his wife, Katherine Long, even let curious children take a seat at their spinning wheels to try their hand at the craft.
The llamas, alpacas, mohairs and goats milled around, triumphantly unaware of their inconsistent haircuts. Thanks to Mr. Jackson’s organization, farmers from across the state and Rhode Island joined the weavers for a large demonstration this year.
Six-year-olds Grace Teel and Lizzy Lane pulled their moms in the opposite direction, toward the brand-new Ferris wheel. They inched up the short line at just before 10:30. Curly-haired Grace showed no fear even though she admitted this would be her first ride on a Ferris wheel.
Kids ran from ride to ride, rushed by the anxiety that the rides would stop before they could jump aboard. The Paratrooper and the Sizzler spun and dipped out of control, but the children seemed immune to any type of motion sickness. Rap music pumped in the background of this kids’ heaven. Children soon were weighed down with prizes, from plastic swords to framed photos of rock stars.
It’s the world where rules are suspended. You can throw baseballs at plates and be rewarded for breaking one. Cotton candy can be devoured for breakfast. Teen craze music blares at loud volumes.
After just 45 minutes at the fair, nine-year-old Dylan McCarthy and his five-year-old brother Patrick had only half of their 36 tickets left.
But Dylan offered no apologies for rushing through the tickets. “We’ve been looking forward to the fair since the last day of the fair last year,” he confessed.
Adding to the hundreds of families already enjoying the fair, 150 campers from the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club pulled their counselors from ride to ride, determined to experience everything before they left at 2 p.m.
Following the scent of corndogs and eggrolls, fair goers began sampling the food booth delights even before lunchtime.
Alison, Christine and Matthew Pigott devoured chocolate ice cream cones at 11 o’clock. Mother Carolyn and father Bob overlooked nutrition rules for the day at the fair.
“Because we pulled them from the rides to eat, we had to promise them any food,” Mrs. Pigott said with a laugh.
Around 11:30, a crowd gathered around the stage to listen as Kelly Peters explained the history of hip hop. His disk jockey played examples of some of the musical types which inspired hip hop, and a lone break dancer — Daniel Serusa — spontaneously peeled to the front of the crowd and stole the show. Mr. Peters stopped to admire the youngster’s spirit and skill before pulling some of his own students to the stage to perform a routine. The young women, wearing bright orange jump suits, look like they came straight from an MTV video.
The Agricultural Fair fun will continue through Sunday, with a little something for everyone.
Today’s program begins with a horse show at 10 a.m. The judging of rabbits and poultry will take place at the same time. The clam and oyster shucking contest along with the smoked fish contest begins at 4 p.m., while the Island’s best fiddlers will take the stage at 7 p.m. after a contra dance demonstration.
Saturday’s activities kick off with the famed dog show at 10:30 in the morning. The 25th annual woodsmen’s contest begins at 1 p.m. The horse council and a contra dance team will offer demonstrations later in the afternoon, before the Caribbean steel band, Mentos and the New Horizon, steps to the stage at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday opens with a draft horse show at 11:30 a.m. The women’s skillet throw starts at 1 o’clock. Mr. Peters and his students will offer hip hop demonstrations at 1:30 and 6 p.m. that day. The fair officially closes at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Through the entire weekend, the rides will spin, food will be served and children and adults will get their fill of all of the sights and sounds of the agricultural fair, thanks to the hard work of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society.