Close to 50 musicians led a throng of several hundred enthusiastic listeners and dancers up Circuit avenue Saturday night in what has become an original Martha’s Vineyard tradition. For eight years now, Best Fest has been celebrated the weekend after Labor Day with live music and a New Orleans-style street parade.

Alison L. Mead

Bass drums, snare drums, tubas and sousaphones and even a Louisiana-style metal rub-board set the beat, ignited by blaring brass, soaring reeds and samba whistles. Though the crowd was dense in spots, Islanders spotted friends and acquaintances they hadn’t seen all summer as they grooved to the energetic rhythms.

Three generations of the farming Athearn family were there, the youngest hoisted on his dad Simon’s tall shoulders. Chilmark selectman Warren Doty followed the parade for more than an hour. Singer-songwriter Nate D’Angelo danced along and smiled. A little boy with light-up sneakers showed he had the fancy footwork to join the parade.

This was the second year in which two already-large marching bands have joined forces to create one mighty — and loud — parade, which stopped several times along the route to perform in place.

“The space is a little tight in places, so it adds to the sound,” said saxophonist Ken Field of the Somerville-based Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, which paraded with the Extraordinary Rendition Band out of Providence.

Two marching bands led the way. — Alison L. Mead

“The sound kind of stays there, which is nice, and the people are all packed in and having a blast.”

Mr. Field, who has played six Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, says Oak Bluffs is the only other city he knows where spectators really enter into the spirit of the event.

“People are there for it; there with a capital T-H, you know?” he said. “Everybody is totally down with it and having a great time and marching with us. That doesn’t happen so much outside of New Orleans. It’s a very participatory parade. People are really engaged.”

In addition to the parade, Best Fest presented several bands in Ocean Park and at the Ritz. The event benefited WVVY, the Island’s low-power community radio station at 96.7 LPFM.

More pictures of Best Fest.