Beach? What beach? On Thursday the call of the 153rd Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair was stronger, as hundreds flooded through the white picket fences off Panhandle Road, eager to hit the midway, visit the livestock barn and, of course, grab some fried dough.

Strong as an ox, literally. — Ivy Ashe

But even the early birds had to wait for one particular worm — the doors of the Ag Hall remained closed well into the afternoon, as judges took note of fair entries, including everything from homemade blueberry jam and butter, to vegetables and handmade surfboards.

On the fairgrounds, the Blue Hills Band roamed with their trumpets and tubas, while donkeys on leashes made their way back to the barn. Kids sat on the fence of the pull ring to watch massive oxen haul sledges bearing several tons of weight. In a nearby stall, two five-month-old twin steers nuzzled their owner, Melanie Brundage of Douglas, perhaps already yearning to get in the ring. But the young steers, Maverick and Goose (the movie Top Gun is big at home) have a long way to go before they too can join the pull.

Maverick stuck out his tongue to greet a youngster in the only way he knew how.

"Did he lick you?" Mrs. Brundage asked, and the boy laughed.

The fair runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.