Vineyard Gazette
Wednesday of last week was a great day for the Vineyard.
Agricultural Fair
West Tisbury History
Maia Coleman
The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society has unveiled the winning poster for the fair this summer honoring Emma Hall, a longtime fair volunteer who died this winter in a motor vehicle accident.
Agricultural Fair



On Thursday at around 7 p.m., Marques Rivers was seen fiddling with something in his pocket. He stood beside his girlfriend of almost five years, Sarah Neubert, waiting to board the Ferris wheel at the Agricultural Fair. It was their annual “date ride” they said, the one they always take the first day of the fair. Ms. Neubert, who is mildly afraid of heights, was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as Mr. Rivers. Minutes later, just as she had summoned the courage to look up from her hands and take in the view from atop the wheel, the ride stopped.

jonathan ruzzo
On opening day of the 151st Agricultural Fair, Joseph and Jonathan Ruzzo, ages seven and four respectively, ran back and forth from the big barn to the judging stand, each time carrying a new set of goats in their arms. They wore knee-high rain boots and looked like seasoned pros, although this was their first time participating in the fair.

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

table eleanor neubert

Standing before the Enter sign at the Agricultural Society fairgrounds the week before the annual fair, there is a strong sense of anticipation. There’s not much to see. Foot-tall pink flags mark the spots for the vendors that will sell food and goods on the lawn. A few rides sit folded in the corner of the property. People drift in and out of the hall, submitting entries. The commotion is only beginning.


The names of judges at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair are largely kept anonymous for fear of bullying, bribery or heckling. There is one livestock judge from off-Island who goes by Steve, although no one can recall his last name. But a handful of judges agreed to talk to the Gazette before they assume judging duties on the fair grounds in West Tisbury later this week as the 151st annual fair gets under way.

Fair entrees will begin arriving on Wednesday afternoon, judging taking place that evening and Thursday morning in the main hall.

Fred Fischer horses

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.