Three teams lined up for the lightweight draft horse pull at the 156th Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair on Friday were undeterred by a little rain. In fact, the wet weather kept the dust to a minimum and kept the hardworking animals cool, the announcer told the crowd gathered on metal bleachers. Those watching (who weren’t pulling up to 8,800 pounds and don't have sand-colored coats) kept umbrellas close at hand and sat on spread-out newspaper, plastic bags and raincoats to keep their pants dry from the wet bleachers.

Jay and Frank, Abe and Rocky, and Tom and Ted competed in the lightweight division. The announcer pointed to a new safety fence at the end of the rink, built after a draft horse escaped at the fair last year. The announcer told the audience the pilings that held the new fence were taken from the old drawbridge over Lagoon Pond.

Elsewhere a pair of young boys, volunteers with “staff” stamped across the backs of their fair T-shirts, pulled a trash can together toward the front of the livestock barn. They took turns grabbing handfuls of kettle corn from a plastic bag before ditching the trash can and the treat to tear through the barn and see the animals.

In the outdoor stables cows greeted the weather by lying down. Inside chickens clucked and shifted in their pens. A man approached an award-winning rooster named Erik the Red. He greeted the three-year-old blue ribbon holder with a soft “hello.” Erik replied with a cock-a-doodle-doo. After the man left Erik continued to crow.

Draft horse pull is popular annual attraction at fair. — Jeanna Shepard

Though furry creatures seemed more popular than their feathered friends, one boy in a soccer jersey flouted the stereotype. 
“Mama, can we see the chickens now?” he asked before running away from the bunny cages, calling out his own imitation of Erik, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”

In the center of the barn, Brian Athearn of Runamok Farm in West Tisbury and Tom Rancich held a two-month-old sheep named Heather. Heather is a cross between a Dorset sheep and a Texel sheep, and was acclimating to wearing a halter.

“Most of my sheep I could walk through a Macy’s,” said Mr. Athearn. Heather the sheep wasn’t quite used to the blue rope halter and occasionally tried to run. But with Mr. Rancich’s calming grip and a trowel full of corn covered in molasses (a rare treat) from Mr. Athearn, she was learning.

“They’re at the fair. Everybody gets a treat at the fair,” Mr. Athearn said.

Along the stalls, children held handfuls of straw to coax sheep, goats, mini ponies and donkeys nearer. Two baby goats no bigger than cats huddled in the straw.

Back at the heavyweight division of the horse pull, six teams lined up, including those who competed in the lightweight division. The rain was falling in earnest and the bleachers remained relatively empty as spectators clustered under trees and umbrellas.

During the competition, one horse threw a shoe and had to be reshod on the field. Another, Jay, stopped wearing his blinders, due to a broken halter, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance.

The horses pulled up to 10,600 pounds before it was declared a three-way tie and judges stopped the competition due to the weather. With the rain pounding down, the fair grounds had emptied considerably. Painted horses on the merry-go-round stood still, no riders mounted or waiting in line, and the Ferris wheel spun lazily, every carriage empty in the rain.

On Saturday the sun appeared and the Island began to dry out. The National Weather Service station in Edgartown recorded 2.68 inches of rainfall Friday.

More photos from the fair.

Saturday events at the fair include the 41st annual woodsmen's contest, beginning at 11 a.m., a bike stunt show at 2:30 p.m., clam and oyster shucking contest at 4 p.m., and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday highlights include the dog show at 10 a.m., the women's skillet throw at 3 p.m. and Robinson's Racing Pigs from 4 to 6 p.m.

Fairgrounds are open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors and free for Agricultural Society members.