Tisbury Street Fair Draws Thousands
Festivities Celebrate All Things Vineyard in July Highlight
By JOSHUA SABATINI
A stroller entering the 31st annual Tisbury Street Fair was overwhelmed from every direction by the sounds of music, the wafting scents of foods - from raw oysters to crispy fried chicken - and the sights of wares pushed by shop owners, educational displays, glow sticks, balloons and painted faces.
Last night's annual fair brought out an equally diverse crowd running the full gamut of ages, from babies to elders, and numbering in the thousands.
A cofounder of the event, Cora Medeiros, has described the fair simply as a time for the young and the old to gather together and have fun. Her vision for the celebration of the town's founding remains true after all these years.
At the bottom of Main street, firefighters gathered around a lime-green fire truck selling T-shirts, hats and glow sticks to raise money for the Tisbury Fire Association. Next to the truck was a police car where Tisbury's new chief of police, Theodore Saulnier, stood in uniform. A child called out to his father, "Let's take a picture with the police car."
A few steps up Main street was a Tisbury ambulance with its back doors ajar. Here, on the same street with the fried dough and linguica, revelers could get a free blood pressure check from members of the Tisbury ambulance corps.
It's Me Clothing had racks of T-shirts out front on the sidewalk, priced at $4 apiece. Eager hands sifted through searching for just the right one.
"I love fried dough," cried out one young girl, spotting the booth hosted by St. Augustine's Church. "I know you do," said her mother, smiling.
Passing by them were three girls stuffing fingers full of bright pink cotton candy into their eager mouths.
Those arriving on time at the fair were met by a swarmed street. Lines to booths were jutting out and snaking through the passing crowds.
Jean Dupon, owner and chef of Le Grenier restaurant, was stormed by adult fair goers.
His hands moved deftly as he served up endless helpings of his quiche and famous Caesar salad.
In one of his brief moments of rest, he smiled at a woman in line and raised his hands to his head, shaking it back and forth.
But he loves it, even after being streetside at the fair for more than 20 years.
"Everything is going well," said Mr. Dupon. "I am having a ball." He was all smiles, he explained, because he'd just saw three of his old employees from 16 years ago.
For many, the event is a great place to socialize. Mr. Saulnier, in his first time at the fair, was eating a piece of fried chicken. "It's wonderful to see so many people out here enjoying themselves and having a good time," he said. "There is a great sense of community."
Jack Silvia, who grew up in Oak Bluffs and is now a resident of Tisbury, said, "This is an annual thing, to come out and see everybody."
His son, Chase, four and a half years old, was sitting on a chair and having his face painted.
Asked how long he will leave the colorful dragon on his cheek, Mr. Silvia's mother in law, Darlene Pachico, popped out from the crowd and said, "He never washes after."
Shelle Reekie, of Pet Adoption and Welfare Service, was hosting the PAWS booth. She held up a picture of a cat with its leg in a cast. The cat was found over the weekend in the woods, she explained, and the money raised at her booth will go towards its surgery.
Jennifer and Thomas Searle, owners of Pitch Pine Miniature Horses, provided one of the most popular attractions for the young: pony and miniature horse rides.
The bottom of Union street was crowded with young kids looking to take a ride on one of the ponies and to pet Meadow, a miniature horse just nine weeks old.
"The kids come out of everywhere," said Mr. Searle, standing next to Meadow and surrounded by an excited group of children. "I come out here to see the smiles and the laughs on their faces," he said.
People of all ages also hosted booths. Kerry Scott, owner of Good Dog Goods, said she comes out every year to support what Mrs. Medeiros started. Beside her was Kelly Leonard, 13. Miss Leonard said it was fun to help out because there were a lot of people with dogs at the fair and she enjoyed talking to them and giving them "information about all the stuff."
Kate Medeiros, Cora's granddaughter, was on Main street having a super time selling her 200 grab bags, hoping to raise enough money to purchase a personal computer.
Just an hour into the fair, she had only 20 left. "It's real fun," she said. "I like talking to people and many came back later saying they loved having a chance to buy a grab bag."
Mike Soares and his wife, Shadow, owners of Vintage Tattoo on Main street, were swamped for the second year in a row by young bright-eyed children looking for colorful temporary tattoos.
The boys were getting dragons and tigers, the girls butterflies and flowers, said Mr. Soares. Mrs. Soares said, "I don't know who is having more fun, me or them."
Richard Paradise was on the top of Union street selling raffle tickets to benefit the Island affordable housing fund.
And when Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish began playing bluesy tunes at the bottom of Main Street, a crowd quickly formed around them. A young boy began to hop around to the music, and soon other children joined in the dance. Parents watched them, smiling and shaking to the tunes a bit themselves.
At the end of one song, Johnny said, "It's great playing on the street, seeing all of you."