Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society


Masters of the Midway Brought the Fair to Life

Excerpted from Bountiful: A History of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and the Livestock Show and Fair, by Susan Klein, with photographs by Alan Brigish (Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, 2012).

This excerpt is taken from chapter 9 which tells the story of the midway and how it came to play an integral part of the annual Island tradition.

“My favorite was the Scrambler! It was really fun!”

— Dylan Biggs, 7 years of age

Fred Fischer horses

At Last, Fair History Explored and Explained

The first Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair was held on October 26, 1858: it was announced on September 15 of that year. And thus began a pilgrimage that would be unfamiliar in nature though familiar in spirit to modern-day fairgoers: 1,800 people made their way to the Grange Hall in West Tisbury by horseback, in wagons or on foot.

Agricultural Society Begins Fundraising Campaign

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society has announced what it is calling a quiet fund-raising campaign this week to raise money to help offset the cost of its recent land purchase in West Tisbury.

The society and the Polly Hill Arboretum bought nearly 10 acres of land from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum last summer for $1 million. The agricultural society contributed $800,000 to the purchase and the arboretum contributed $200,000.

The land lies between the arboretum and the fair grounds.

Agricultural Society, Polly Hill Join Forces to Buy Vineyard Museum Land

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is close to selling the West Tisbury land once envisioned as its future home to the neighbors, the Polly Hill Arboretum and the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society.

The sale is likely to be completed by the end of the week, arboretum executive director Tim Boland said. Surveying work was underway and everything was going very positively, he said.

“We both could see real utilitarian needs [for the land] ... and we feel strongly about keeping it in the agrarian spirit,” Mr. Boland said of the unified purchase with the agricultural society.

Farmers Agree on Slaughterhouse Plan

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and Island Grown Initiative have joined forces in a venture to build a slaughterhouse behind the fairgrounds in West Tisbury.

The project is still in the very early stages of discussion and no permits have been obtained, but preliminary talks between the agricultural society and the nonprofit IGI are under way to allow a slaughterhouse facility to be built behind the new barn on society land.

Spread Sunshine on Farms Not Panels

The following letter was sent to the Edgartown selectmen:

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, founded in 1859, has had as its mission these many years to improve breeds, promote agriculture and educate in the “mechanic and domestic arts.” We currently have over 1,200 dues-paying members, many of whom are Edgartown citizens, and our affairs are administered by a 16-member board of trustees. At our meeting on Jan. 12 the board unanimously voted to instruct me to send this letter to you.


Barn-Raisers’ Ball a Community Affair


Every August, Vineyarders flood the fair grounds at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Hall in West Tisbury. Every fall, we are treated to the harvest festival to celebrate the season’s bounty, and every winter we have Island artisans’ fairs, community potlucks or most recently the winter farmers’ markets. The Vineyard is a place of tradition, and the Ag Hall is a beacon of that.

Beef Cattle Talk

Beef Cattle Talk

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society will host a presentation and discussion of beef cattle production a 7:30 p.m. this Friday, July 9.

Ag Fair is Best in Show

Ag Fair Is Best in Show

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society won four awards including the Best of Show honor at the 2009 Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs’ Association Media Awards competition held this month in Marlborough.

The fair’s poster, by the Vineyard Gazette’s Morgan Lucero, was awarded best of show.


Raise the Roof

Raise the Roof

Fifteen years ago, the New Hampshire barn that had been dismantled, shipped and reassembled off Panhandle Road in West Tisbury was finished, and officially became the New Agricultural Society Hall. While a decade and a half of potlucks, dances, meetings and exhibitions have taken the new out of its name, the Ag Hall remains something to celebrate. Saturday’s Barnraisers’ Ball will do just that, with help from Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. The barn doors open at 7:30 p.m., and admission is a dessert to share.