The oxen are in the barn and the ferris wheel is resting high up in the blue sky. The games of chance stand in a row, the tilt-a-whirl remains tilted and a giant bounce house tiger sits at the ready its mouth open and, oddly enough, inviting.

But where are all the people?

Some are inside doing the final judging of crafts, art, baked goods, jellies, jams and all manner of photographs. Some are outside tightening screws, carrying bales of hay, riding tractors and Bobcats, and teaching a new crop of young Island kids how to direct traffic, park cars and pick up garbage when it arrives. And it is coming. Soon. In fact, tomorrow.

Time to enter the world of the Agricultural Fair. — Jeanna Shepard

On Thursday, August 16 the 157th Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair opens at 10 a.m. The annual summer highlight in West Tisbury is open for business and fun on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday opens with livestock judging, including goats at 10 a.m., followed by the oxen obstacle course at 10:30, along with the judging of the cattle, swine and miniature horses and donkeys.

Robinson’s racing pigs are back and ready to take their first plunge at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. After that the day just keeps going, with more animal judging, musical acts, Kelly Peters dance troupe at 2:30 p.m., sack races and kiddie pedal tractor pulls.

New this year is a strongman contest on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. There are separate divisions for high school boys and girls, men, women and over 45 years old. Try your best at the yolk squat, dead lift, kettle bell toss and more. Or eat some burgers and sausage while cheering on your stronger friends.

Bounce house is hungry for kids. — Jeanna Shepard

On Friday, for the less strenuous minded, there is a corn husking contest at 2 p.m. and vegetable car races to watch at 4 p.m.

Also on Saturday another tough breed takes center stage for the 42nd annual woodsmen contest beginning at 11 a.m. The women’s skillet throw is at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Every day wander along the midway and watch dollars fly out of your hands while throwing darts or pitching baseballs in search of the perfect stuffed animal prize. Explore the livestock tents and visit with cows, sheep, chickens, alpacas and more. Visit the fiber tent and see sheep shearing demonstrations or be hypnotized by the tactile prowess of weavers, spinners, knitters, felters and quilters. Or linger over a corn dog and fried dough while trying to remember what century you have walked into.

The fair is a timeless treasure that cures most of the ailments of the modern world, at least for four days.

More fair setup pictures.