Audio Postcard

Holly Pretsky and Vivian Ewing

A lamb’s first shearing, saucy ribs, dogs and cakes named best in show: two Gazette reporters spend the weekend at the 157th Agricultural Fair, speaking to Islanders and visitors and recording the moments that make up the fair experience.

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Fair Information

  • 157th Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair & Livestock Show: August 16, 17, 18 and 19, 2018.
  • Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, Panhandle Road, West Tisbury, MA
  • For a Daily Schedule of Events, see below
  • To download a fair book, go to the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society's website

 

For more than a century and a half, people of all ages have flocked to Martha’s Vineyard for the annual Agricultural Society Fair. The Island’s beloved Ag Fair, now held annually in late August, celebrates the Vineyard’s farming tradition while providing entertainment for community members and visitors with food, games and carnival rides.

The fair features a variety of judged events. Bakers compete to make the best double-crusted pies; women test their skills in long-distance skillet-throwing; wranglers try their hand at ox-harnessing. Farmers and backyard gardeners hope their pumpkins and other vegetable win ribbons for their size or shape. Island families begin planning months ahead, honing their skills for the fleeting four days of festivities. The fair offers arcade games, rides, and delectable foods, including such guilty pleasures as cotton candy, onion rings, and fried dough, as well as the chance to admire the well-groomed livestock and handiwork of others.

The first Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Cattle Show and Fair was held on October 26, 1858, and attracted some 1,800 people who made their way on horseback, in wagons or on foot to tents erected for the purpose in West Tisbury. It was so successful the agricultural society saved up and built what became the Grange Hall for the second fair. Floral displays, noble pumpkins, squashes, beets, and carrots crowded tables, exceeding expectations, reported agricultural society secretary Henry L. Whiting, who along with Leavitt Thaxter and Ichabod N. Luce helped found the society. Charles W. Pease’s corn “excelled anything we ever saw,” Mr. Whiting wrote.

The fair expanded from two days to three days in 1925. The agricultural society stopped the fair for three years in 1942 to accommodate emergency war efforts, and when it resumed in 1946, the dates were changed to three days in August to capture the last wave of summer visitors. Eventually cattle weren’t the only animals being submitted for judging anymore, and in 1976 the name was changed to accommodate all livestock.

Since 1995, the event has been held in the buildings and grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society in West Tisbury, and most attendees come by car.

 

2018 Agricultural Fair Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16 (10:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M.)

  • 10:00 A.M. Judging of Goats - In front of Barn
  • 10:30 A.M. Ox Obstacle Course - Pulling Ring
  • 10:30 A.M. Judging of Cattle, Swine, Miniature Horses, ­­­­­­ Miniature Donkeys - Barn
  • 11:00 A.M. Ox in Hand - Pulling Ring
  • 11:30 A.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 11:00-5:00 P.M. The Blue Hills Brass Quartet - Strolling
  • 12:00 - 2:00 P.M. Vegetable Car Races - Back of Hall
  • 1:00-4:00 P.M. Registration - Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull - near Pulling Ring
  • 1:00 P.M. Ox Pull - Pulling Ring
  • 1:00 P.M. Pet Show - Stage
  • 1:30 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 2:30-4:00 P.M. Kelly Peters Dance Show - Stage
  • 4:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 4:30-6:00 P.M. Psychles - Stage
  • 5:00 P.M. Sack Races - Show Ring
  • 5:00 P.M. Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull - near Pulling Ring
  • 6:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 6:30-8:00 P.M. Phil daRosa - Stage
  • 7:00 P.M. “Acoustic Corner” Fiddlers with Nancy Jephcote
  • ­­­­­­ & The Flying Elbows - Pulling Ring
  • 8:30 P.M. Dwight & Nicole - Stage

Hall Closes 10:00 P.M.

Barn Closes 10:00 P.M.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17 (10:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M.)

  • 10:00 A.M. Judging of Poultry & Rabbits - Barn
  • 11:00 -5:00 P.M. The Blue Hills Brass Quartet - Strolling
  • 11:00 A.M. Draft Horse Halter Class - Pulling Ring
  • 11:00 A.M. Sack Races - Show Ring
  • 11:30 A.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 11:30 A.M. Judging of Sheep, Llamas & Alpacas - Barn
  • 1:00 P.M. Draft Horse Pulling Contest - Pulling Ring
  • 1:00-2:00 P.M. Island Theatre Workshop Children’s Theatre - ­­­­­­ a Cabaret - Stage
  • 1:30 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 2:00 P.M. Corn Husking Contest - Back of Hall
  • 2:30-4:00 P.M. Kelly Peters Dance Show - Stage
  • 4:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 4:00 - 6:00 P.M. Vegetable Car Races - Back of Hall
  • 4:30-6:00 P.M. Mrs. Biskus - Stage
  • 5:30 P.M. Island Gymnastics Training Demonstration - Lawn
  • 6:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 6:30-8:00 P.M. Roundabouts - Stage
  • 8:30 PM Jelly Roll Horns - Stage

Hall Closes 10:00 P.M.

Barn Closes 10:00 P.M.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18 (10:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M.)

  • 10:00 A.M. Antique Tractor Pull - behind Pulling Ring
  • 11:00 A.M. 42nd Annual Woodsmens Contest - Pulling Ring
  • 11:30 A.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 12:00 P.M. Vegetable Car Races - Back of Hall
  • 12:00 P.M. Toe Jam - Stage
  • 1:30 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 3:00 P.M. Toe Jam - Stage
  •  
  • 4:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 4:00 P.M. Clam & Oyster Shucking Contest - Back of Hall
  • 4:30-6:00 P.M. Electric Pie - Stage
  • 5:00 P.M. Sack Races - Show Ring
  • 6:30 P.M. Devolvers - Stage
  • 6:30 P.M. Tug-O-War - Show Ring
  • 7:00 P.M. “Acoustic Corner” Island Musicians - Pulling Ring
  • 8:30 P.M. Dock Dance Band - Stage

Hall Closes 10:00 P.M.

Barn Closes 10:00 P.M.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 (9:30 A.M.-7:00 P.M.)

  • 9:30 A.M. Dog Show Registration - Pulling Ring
  • 10:00 A.M. Dog Show - Pulling Ring
  • 11:00 A.M. Island Draft Horse Show - Show Ring
  • 11:30 A.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 12:00 P.M. Beacon of Hope - Stage
  • 1:30 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 2:00 - 4:00 P.M. Vegetable Car Races - Back of Hall
  • 2:30 P.M. Pinkletinks - Stage
  • 3:00 P.M. Women’s Skillet Throw - Pulling Ring
  • 4:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring
  • 6:00 P.M. Robinson’s Racing Pigs - outside Show Ring

Hall Closes 6:00 P.M.

Barn Closes 6:00 P.M.