From the Vineyard Gazette editions of August 1974:

Forty cowboys, cowgirls and assistants came to the Vineyard Saturday in 17 trucks and trailers to stage the Island’s first rodeo and Wild West show, sponsored by the Island chamber of commerce. With them they brought 15 horses, six steers, a mule, two dogs and a buffalo, and before stands filled with spectators under huge striped tents at Scrubby Neck Farm in West Tisbury, they performed three shows. Vacationers intermingled with Islanders but, most of all, there were children.

Wet or Dry? That’s the question — actually a series of questions — which will face Oak Bluffs voters in the November election if the petition drive now under way in the town to get the liquor question on the state ballot is successful. Voters will be asked whether to limit the size of establishments selling alcohol, whether to ban the sale of package liquor or whether to eliminate alcohol sales altogether. The petitions are being circulated by 10 residents, including two Circuit avenue merchants, who hope to put the alcohol question before the voters for the first time since 1970, when Oak Bluffs voters rejected proposed restrictions.

Tisbury voters found plenty to wrangle over at Wednesday’s special town meeting. The chief issue was a proposal by the selectmen that the town buy, for $95,000, the Milton Wend property which adjoins the town hall. The property includes a house and barn or carriage house. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. The selectmen’s aim was to acquire both additional office space and room for parking automobiles.

Sunny spring and summer skies may mean hard times for farmers of cultivated crops, but they mean good pickings for those looking forward to reaping wild harvests. This year’s yield of beach plums promises to be the highest since 1970. The Island shrubs bloomed around Memorial Day, and those fortunate enough to be here then saw the dunes laced with delicate white petals. Since the early June weather remained fair, the bees could easily accomplish their task of cross-pollination, a step essential to fruit production.

Once the beach plums begin to grow they do not suffer the effects of drought as other cultivated fruit crops do. This is because the plant develops a deep tap root and extensive subsidiary roots to reach the water supply deep in the sand. The root also holds the dunes together and prevents erosion. Look for the green fruit to swell and turn red, purple or black by the end of August. Some varieties ripen as late as October.

The Dukes County Planning and Economic Development Commission is preparing for its transformation into the Martha’s Vineyard Land and Water Commission. The latter commission was chartered when the state land use control bill was recently enacted. The new commission will implement the state bill on Martha’s Vineyard and will take over the functions of the planning commission, as soon as the commission’s members are chosen. Before the new commission can get down to work, however, the old commission must figure out how the new commission will work. To this end, a $17,000 grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has been awarded to the planning commission to finance what they are calling the special management effort.

This project includes a series of meetings that are being held this summer between representatives of the old commission and new groups from every Island town. Officially, the meetings are supposed to raise discussion in six well-defined areas that relate to the state bill: mapping of areas of critical concern, procedures of various boards and agencies in reviewing development, problems created by different kinds of development, drafting of new land use regulations, economic impact of new land use regulations and the future role of the new commission.

The drought took its toll on Saturday night when a fire destroyed three acres of the state forest, one and half miles southeast of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s most critical emergency case is the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Because of start-up costs for the new 80-bed hospital, the hospital is faced with a serious, a very, very serious need for funds, facing an operating deficit of approximately $242,000 for the year ending Sept. 30, 1974, a scant two months away. The need is for a one-time outlay which will not recur in the years ahead, during which operating deficits funded by public donation will not range beyond $125,000 or $130,000 annually. Future operating deficits will be comprehensible and manageable. Such a projection is based on assumptions, but realistic ones, as professional assistance in arriving at these estimates has been sought.

Compiled by Alison Mead