The ferris wheel's been planted, the entry forms returned, the dogs bathed, allowances saved, curfews set.

In the final days before the 141st annual Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair begins, volunteers are plugging through the fair's "to do" list. It's a list that Eleanor Neubert - fair manager for 19 years - knows well.

The phone rings off the hook in the agricultural hall office Saturday morning, and Kathleen (Nanny) Brady grabs the phone and places a hand over the receiver to confer with Ms. Neubert. The answers are pretty simple. No more volunteers for trash detail are necessary. And no, the judging committee will not accept late entries.

The agricultural fair, after 141 years of bringing old-fashioned fun to Island families, is a well-oiled machine, and an infectious spontaneity spreads through the core of volunteers. Carina Koury-Jones runs into the office breathless with a half-dozen potted flowers she salvaged from Eden Gardens for the barrel pot on the hall's porch. Every volunteer manages to sneak over to the desk through the morning to sample Kathy Lobb's breakfast treat of the day.

And then there are the stories that always get this group laughing during tense moments. The phone call Ms. Neubert received at 11:30 p.m. one evening this spring, asking about the fair dates for the summer. And the last ride on the ferris wheel Sunday night, just for the volunteers.

"You get to organize such a large event with an incredible number of details. And through it all, we try and make it fun and educational for the general public," Ms. Neubert says, when asked what keeps her coming back.

For all its tradition, each year has a few new twists.

This year's fair will feature even more agricultural demonstrations. A sheep-shearing and herding demonstration will be offered each day. A herd of Island herefords, an alpaca and a handful of miniature horses will be on hand for petting and admiring Thursday.

The spinners and weavers tent, under the direction of Glenn Jackson, will be back by popular demand. Pens full of llamas, sheep and alpacas will await haircuts and children will await their turn at the spinning wheel as Island weavers teach the intricacies of their craft.

Michael Higgins of Rhode Island - the mastermind behind the tree stump art on the agricultural hall porch - will return Saturday afternoon, adding to his ladybug stump collection.

Homegrown tumblers from Island Gymnastics will flip and roll and strut their stuff across mats in the front of the hall Friday at 5 p.m.

The Martha's Vineyard Horse Council has been working on a special patriotic tribute through the summer and will preview its work Thursday afternoon at 2:30, Friday at 11 a.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m.

A few new rides will join the Cushing family's collection in the midway this year. The Harry Potter Bounce will offer a trampoline of sorts for children, while the Skat and the Aladdin will thrill the teens in the crowd. Fried dough, candy apples and cotton candy will satisfy everyone's appetite.

Nine vendors from the farmers' market will peddle homemade goods throughout the four-day fair. Dukes County - under the direction of county rodent control officer T.J. Hegarty - will also be educating the public on its various services.

Perhaps the biggest change to the fair will be a complete computerization of all entries. Computerized tags, judges' sheets and results mark a historic moment for the agricultural society.

"We've broken down and given in to modern technology with mixed feelings," Ms. Neubert says. "Everyone enjoyed the personal feel of handwritten tags, but the time has come."

The fair is by no means sacrificing other traditions as it steps in to the 21st century. The barns will be filled with poultry, swine and oxen. Becky Brown turned in two pages worth of entries from the FARM Institute. Farm animals will spend the night at the agricultural society's campus on Panhandle Road, remaining on display for fair visitors through the weekend.

More than 500 categories - from snap beans and beets to zinnias and photographs - will lure countless children, parents and grandparents to exhibit their homegrown talents. Near drought conditions may affect some of this year's entries, but Ms. Lobb and her team of judges are always surprised. Longtime competitor Ted Meinelt of Chilmark will return with his special flower arrangements after taking a few years off to help his grandchildren prepare their entries. Entry forms were returned Monday evening, and entries must be brought to the fair grounds between noon and five o'clock tomorrow.

Over in the food booths, folks can still secure the West Tisbury firemen's hamburgers, Bill Smith's lobster rolls, tempura, strawberry shortcake and corndogs. Thatcher White will be adding fried fish to the mix this year.

Saturday morning's dog show will be a showdown of the best of each breed again this year. Agility demonstrations, welcoming any Island owner and pooch team, will start at 10:30 a.m. Thursday afternoon's pet show will continue to attract any critter that breathes.

"We see anything that's alive. Anything the kid found in his yard or keeps in a cage," Ms. Lobb says with a laugh.

Kelly Peters will return to the stage with his teen dancers for hip hop demonstrations Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Uniquely Island fair traditions, clam and oyster shucking and smoked fish contests, will begin at 4 p.m. Friday.

Woodsmen are revving up their chainsaws and sharpening their axes for the 26th annual woodsmen's contest Saturday at 1 p.m., emceed by Clarence (Trip) Barnes.

Sunday afternoon, women will step to the ring, frying pan in hand, to beat Jess Branch's 51-foot, one-inch toss from last year's Women's Skillet Throw.

Local and mainland talent will step to stage each night of the fair. Country vocalist Jenny Paquette will entertain fairgoers Thursday night at 7:30, and The Ray Band, bringing an array of "oldies but goodies" will perform Friday at 7 p.m.

Local teen bands will follow Rick Bausman's calypso band Saturday evening. Other local entertainers including guitarist Miguel deBraganca will close the fair Sunday evening with some solo performances.

Tickets are $7 per adult per day, $5 for seniors and $4 for children. Members of the agricultural society will be admitted free of charge.