The Martha’s Vineyard Touchdown Club’s popular tempura food booth — a primary fundraiser for the high school’s football and cheerleading programs — will need an unprecedented effort to be ready for this summer’s agricultural fair. The club faces a shortage in funding to rebuild the booth, which was severely damaged in a fire last September. The fair takes place a month from now.

Jesse B. (Jack) Law, president of the club, said this week he is confident the booth will be ready on time. “We are going to get it fixed one way or another,” he said.

Touchdown Tempura
The booth in better days; it often grosses up to $20,000 a year for the high school football team and scholarships. — Ivy Ashe

Monies raised by the booth are used to purchase gear and ancillary equipment for both the junior and varsity football teams. Plus, they provide equipment for the school’s cheerleaders.

“We buy uniforms for the players; we buy their helmets and we buy uniforms for the cheerleaders,” Mr. Law said. “We do everything for the team,” he added.

The booth was stored near a huge fire that burned through several boats in the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard’s off-site open storage site at the airport last September. Since then, the booth has languished in a parking lot at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport business park, awaiting the significant repairs.

Marthas Vineyard Touchdown Club
Fire at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard also damaged popular tempura food booth. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Last year, the tempura booth helped raise $18,000 for the booster club’s efforts, down from previous years because of the economy. Mr. Law said the booth usually grosses $20,000 a year. They’ve used it for the last 10 years. Selling tempura at the fair is the principal fundraising tool for the organization, though they do have an annual auction in the fall at the Portuguese American Club. Last October that event raised $5,400, considerably less than in past years when they could raise anywhere from $15,000 to $19,000.

Now there is little time left before the fair. The fire burned a hole through the roof, which was repaired. But the interior ceiling needs to be replaced and carpentry work needs to be done. All the electrical wiring inside must be redone. Mr. Law said he hopes to rely heavily on volunteers, friends and associates of the club. But dollars are still needed. A $1,500 refrigerator they purchased two years ago needs to be replaced.

“We’d like to raise the money now,” Mr. Law said. Every dollar raised at the agricultural fair, after expenses, is put toward the players and cheerleaders, Mr. Law said. He said he doesn’t want to use the money raised at the fair to cover the expenses associated with repairing the booth.

Mr. Law, who works full time for R.M. Packer Co., takes two weeks off each summer and devotes it to the agricultural fair fundraising mission.

He has been president of the touchdown club for the last 15 years. He shares responsibilities with Denise Lambos, of Edgartown, the club’s secretary.

The booth employs eight people working three shifts for four days. The cooks are all volunteers.

Around 70 players and nearly 30 cheerleaders are expected to be involved in the football season ahead.

On the positive side, Mr. Law said they still have $8,000 for next year’s annual scholarships to students. “We try to stay a year ahead,” Mr. Law said. Otherwise, the club—which has an annual budget of around $50,000 a year—is broke.

“We just pray and hope,” he said, “that the people of Martha’s Vineyard will come out and help us.”

Tax deductible contributions can be sent to the M.V. Touchdown Club, 102 Pond View Drive, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.