Sam Hayes of Edgartown affectionately pinned back the ears of his giant American pit bull terrier, Wallace, as owner and canine took a breather from Sunday’s dog show.
It was the last day of the 147th Annual Livestock Show and Fair of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society. A total of 29,706 entrance tickets were sold, happily surprising organizers who were braced for recession-era frugality and low returns on a late summer start date.
A laid-back answer to Britain’s Crufts, the dog show attracted hundreds of dog lovers form around the Island to make impromptu entries of their pets.
Wallace was restrained by a bungee cord knotted with twine attached to a chest strap. It’s a device Mr. Hayes fashioned to give his dog an extra workout whenever he strains on the lead. Both dog and owner appeared in peak physical condition. Wallace, three, has a rigorous exercise regime said Mr. Hayes who has read several books on dog rearing.
“It’s about finding the balance in ourselves. It’s like any other relationship, you become part of each other, ” he said. “He lives in the now. Imagine if you and I could do that? The moment is so powerful.”
Mr. Hayes is planning the addition of a female pup later this year.
“Gonna make puppies,” he said. “He’s still got his stuff.”
Last year in the dog show at the fair Wallace won his division and was a surprise runner up for best in show. This year he was denied a prize by an English bulldog. But it was an oversight: organizers realized — too late — that the dog is not in fact a terrier and was competing in the wrong division.
The result didn’t matter to Mr. Hayes.
“At the start the kids they duck and cover — but the real prize for me is when they come up at the end and pet him,” he said.
The dog show Sunday brought hundreds of pooches to the same pitch of land. A Boston terrier named Fenway — whose owner recently returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army National Guard — was splayed out on the cool grass next to Leo, a chow adopted in March and entered as a non-sporting breed.
The previous day, on the same pitch, the log rolling event at the woodsman competition, in its 32nd year at the fair, provided solid evidence that Americans will compete at anything.
John Postemski was watching event from the back of the pitch, wearing a T-shirt that read on the back: The Surgeon General Encourages You to Smoke (The Competition). A pair of woodsmen darted around a log, coaxing the 20-foot piece of lumber toward a pair of flags at two ends of a pitch.
The T-shirt is from the World Lumberjack Championships of 1996, in Wisconsin, which Mr. Postemski won. This is the third in a string of competitions Mr. Postemski is attending over the long weekend.
He still competes, though at 75 he is missing a finger which he lost in an incident involving a truck and his wedding ring. He finished in the middle of the pack for much of Saturday’s competition, though he placed third in the open stock chainsaw and sixth in the ax throw events.
“I’ve had a knee replaced and I have some other parts too,” he said. “They’re getting better and I’m getting slower but I’m still here.”
Not everyone competed fairly.
Displayed on the wooden shelves in the agricultural hall stacked among the ribbon-winning cupcakes and brownies this weekend was a plate of sandwich cookies produced by Oreo Inc. and entered by Maureen Healy, 72, of West Tibsury.
Along with a nearby package of Fig Newtons, the Oreos are the latest salvo in a feud over a pumpkin that began about a decade ago.
“Maureen’s not much of a cook,” said Simone DeSorcy, who lives in Vineyard Haven and works in the West Tisbury town hall (Mrs. Healy also used to work there). “She makes a pumpkin stew every year using a recipe she got from an old electricity bill. The Healys have a pumpkin party every year in October.”
One year Ms. DeSorcy brought around “a hideous” wreath with a pumpkin head as a joke gift for Mrs. Healy, and a feud was born.
“She had someone tack it to my front door, it showed up on her front door. It arrived on my desk at work. I wrapped it in a beautiful box and made her granddaughter give it to her for Christmas. I made a calendar of photos of it with the wreath in different scenarios each month. She had January’s entry made into a T-shirt and gave it to me,” Ms. DeSorcy said.
At one point the agricultural fair became embroiled in the feud.
“Maureen does beautiful hand work,” said Ms. DeSorcy. (Though Mrs. Healy declined to confirm or deny her involvement in this weekend’s entries she did mention that in 1968 she won a second-place ribbon for a knitted hat.)
“I knew she be looking closely at the entries at the fair so I entered the wreath under her name in the adult handcraft,” she added.
The next year Mrs. Healy entered Ms. DeSorcy in the category of flower arrangement in a tea cup. A painting on the cup showed the back end of a cow and the dead flowers inside were lined with stale string beans.
“It was the talk of the judging hall,” said Ms. DeSorcy, who was quick to retaliate. “I entered her in the adult photography with a blowup shot of the wreath in a garden setting.”
This year, pressed for ideas, Ms. De-Sorcy approached one of Mrs. Healy’s six children for inspiration.
“Her son suggested Oreos because that’s what she would send children with to baking events at school,” she said.
But the son was acting as a sort of double agent and he entered the fig rolls under Ms. DeSorcy’s name.
“We like to laugh,” she said. Ms. DeSorcy has next year’s prank already in mind but is keeping it all secret for now, except to say that it will involve acrylic paint.