Whether you live in the Vineyard or are heading there in August, you will want to check out the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair! Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society has sponsored this fair from 1858, making this their 161st year, providing a well-loved island tradition. The fair runs four days from August 17th to the 20th in West Tisbury.
The fair is four days of fun and has grown into an island tradition. There are Ferris wheels and other rides, fried food, animal shows, carnival games, performances and entertainers, music, and more! The fair is open 10 am to 11 pm Thursday through Saturday, and open Sunday 9:30 am to 7 pm. Carnival opens 11am each day of the fair. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for kids 5-12 and seniors 62+. Children 4 and under are free. Fair-goers are encouraged to buy their tickets online to avoid lines and crowding at the ticket booth.
The History of Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair
The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair had a humble start in late October of 1858, with a single day of livestock expos and cattle shows. The next year in 1859 island farmers united, forming the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society to collaborate and improve local agricultural resources. The fair continued to grow, expanding to a three-day event by 1925.
From 1942 to 1946 the fair was discontinued on account of World War II. The fair was held at the old Ag Hall, or The Grange Hall until 1994 when a new Ag Hall was raised with the help of hundreds of islanders. In 1996 the fair relocated tobacco barns from Deerfield, Mass to create barns for the animals shown during the fair.
In 1998 the fair became a four-day event. A second animal barn was raised by Amish builders in 2008. After celebrating their 150th year in 2011 the fair purchased 10 acres of land in 2012 from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. In 2016 they installed a solar array that powers the fair and the nearby ice arena.
The Many Fair Events
Over the years the event has grown to the current four days and become an island institution. It often marks the final hurrah of summer and is a wonderful way to celebrate the island’s agriculture and all things August on the Island!
Be sure to watch the pig races, women’s skillet toss, woodsman’s events, dog show, horse pulls, and more. In addition to the animals, the fair offers rides, carnival games, entertainers, and lots of fair food that people of all ages will love!
In addition to a being a well-loved island tradition and a great day of wholesome family fun, the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair also provides a venue for locals to showcase their best baked goods, crafts, most beautiful vegetables or animals.
The Carnival area, with a multitude of games and rides is always a favorite with the kids. Fair patrons may purchase Magic Money cards from the kiosks located throughout the grounds or conveniently pay through the Magic Money mobile app.
Don’t Miss the Fun at the Fiber Tent
Stop by the fiber tent to visit the animals that provide the wool for all the knitting and spinning.You might even catch a sheep shearing demonstration.Come check out the action in a speed spinning contest or compete in the chopstick knitting competition.
While you are there you can do a fun fiber craft and learn all about the fiber arts. They hold drop in classes throughout the day using upcycled materials. You might learn to make a tie-dye banner or a hooked rug coaster, among other fun projects.
So put Martha’s Vineyard Fair on your calendar this August to create a new family tradition or check out the other fun events in our August Events.