It has been clear for some time that summer 2020 would be different, but the picture came into sharper focus this week with the announcement that the Agricultural Fair has been canceled.

It is by no means the first event to be shelved in this year of the coronavirus. The Beach Road Festival has been called off, the Best of the Vineyard party has been scratched, the Playhouse will go dark for the season, the Yard has canceled performances through June and Taste of the Vineyard is canceled, to name just a few.

But the Ag Fair is in many ways the season’s capstone event, always held the third week of August. Fair week traditionally marks the last hurrah of summer. Crowds begin to thin on the Island after the ferris wheel and carnival rides come down. College students start leaving for school, and the evening light takes on a deeper hue.

Trapped in the uncertainty of the present, it has been difficult to plan for the future. Now the Ag Fair decision has forced us to think about the waning days of August, and it is time to start plotting a course from here to there.

There are so many practical questions. Should any group events be held at all, and if so under what conditions? Can bars and restaurants be safely reopened, and what steps can be taken to minimize risk? What restrictions should be placed on beaches and other public spaces where crowds tend to gather? What role do the airport and Steamship Authority play in educating and perhaps controlling the flow of visitors to the Vineyard?

There is still much uncertainty as Massachusetts remains a week away from what is expected to be the peak of the pandemic. But as the weather warms and thoughts of summer intensify, organizations that hold fundraising events are looking for guidance, as are the many seasonal businesses who must decide how to staff and prepare for a season with so many unknowns.

Our balkanized Island government — six separate towns and various regional entities — complicates any efforts to create an Islandwide plan, but that is what is needed at this critical time. Selectmen and boards of health showed remarkable unanimity when the stay-at-home orders were first imposed in mid-March. More recently, cracks have developed in that alliance, as evidenced by the recent standoff over exactly when to relax the construction ban.

The Island is looking for direction how to proceed. The same group that found a way to agree on stay-at-home orders would be well advised to get to work on a set of shared guidelines, putting aside personal agendas and focusing on the good of the whole.

Much as the United States does not have a supreme leader to dictate how the country will reopen, the Vineyard must rely on its locally elected officials and hope they can model the best traits of collaboration.