Tivoli Day Celebrates 25th Anniversary

By BRETT FERRY

The hot, busy months of summer offer working Islanders a short window of opportunity to hustle a year's earnings.

When the close of the season nears, few year-round residents can recall taking a relaxed afternoon stroll through Oak Bluffs - they only remember scurrying up and down the street, head down, dodging tourists and trying to get quickly where they needed to go.

The end of the madness of summer was celebrated along Circuit avenue on Saturday at the 25th annual Tivoli Day festival.

The street was closed to traffic so businesses and groups from all over town, and elsewhere on the Island, could set up sidewalk displays to peddle their wares.

At the bottom of the street, the Dunkl brothers were selling bottles of their Chilmark Spring Water. On a hot late-summer day, wise festival-goers purchased water to prepare for a couple hundred yards of good food and sale prices.

"Bargain fever," said one young lady who observed Stuart Robinson's street-side operation.

A large, energized fellow known to many as the "flea market man," Mr. Robinson set out crates of what he called junk. Patrons rifled through the boxes and held up items such as bungee cords and kitchen utensils. Standing at least a head above everyone else, the vendor would point to the items and bark out a price, "Six dollars. Two for seven."

Mr. Robinson purchases closeout items off-Island and tries to move his goods at flea markets and street fairs on-Island.

Reggae music pumping from Neptune's Grill set an easy-going pulse at the bottom of the street. The snack bar employees, too, brought their wares streetside, offering cups of seafood chowder and fried calamari.

T-shirt shops, perhaps sensing an end to the seasonal tourist rush, slashed prices to near pocket change, offering Vineyard shirts for $4 and caps for $6 - deep discounts from the regular prices.

Rebecca Everett, a Vineyard painter, displayed giclee prints of her colorful and detailed oil paintings of several Vineyard scenes.

"I don't know if it's the best venue for an artist," she said. "It's only my second year doing it. I have sold some prints and generated some interest."

Approaching the crest of the street, people were lured to the Smoke ‘n' Bones table by the wafting sweet smell of barbecued ribs. The long line and busy crew proved that not too many resisted the aroma.

Across the street Season's Pub was preparing pulled pork and Mexican chicken wraps. More reggae music blared from a sound system behind them. The avenue felt like a Caribbean marketplace.

Down the backside of the street more racks of goods sported "half off" signs. The reggae beat began to fade out and Doug Peckham's voice took over: "This is the big one. This is the one they're buzzing about," he told the crowds.

Mr. Peckham was relentlessly promoting a raffle to support COMSOG, the community solar greenhouse. First prize was a watercolor painting - his own - of a Vineyard seascape.

"He found it," Mr. Peckham said with joy as one man stepped up to buy a raffle ticket. "This is the buzz."

"We're having more fun than any other group out here," said Diane Ball, who sold raffle tickets.

Throughout the afternoon, families indulged in hot dogs and ice cream. Vineyard artisans young and old displayed their work, from photography to wool sweaters.

A young girl looked up to a four-foot-tall Betty Boop statue on the sidewalk, and said to her younger brother, "I wish we were the richest people in the world and mommy would buy this for me."

At the end of Circuit avenue, musicians Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish attempted to find some shade under a sidewalk tree. Folks who had been meandering down the street congregated at the end while the local bluesmen wailed their honky-tonk tunes to the crowd. Many kids hearing them for the first time caught the vibe and danced into the streets.

Unimpressed with bargains or deals, the kids relished in the soulful sounds under a hot September sun.