Wednesday of last week was a great day for the Vineyard. At that time, the first agricultural gathering and display ever attempted on the Island, was successfully held at the Dukes County Academy, in West Tisbury. The exhibition greatly surpassed the warmest hopes of its friends. There was a grand display of the cattle, fruit, vegetables, flowers, pictures, and fancy articles. The weather was uncommonly fine for the season, and a large number of persons, variously estimated at from 1500 to 2000, were upon the ground during the day, all of whom, without exception, seemed greatly delighted and astonished at the wonderful success of the Fair, - wonderful indeed, when we take into view the short time consumed in making the preparations, and the very few engaged in them.
Too much praise cannot well be awarded to the President of this infant Society, Hon. Leavitt Thaxter. Much of his time has been devoted, since its organization, in completing the arrangements necessary to a full development of all the interests, energies and resources of a young and thrifty Society. But for him, and his untiring labors, the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, would never have known an existence. He has received valuable assistance from Henry L. Whiting, the secretary, who has done much to secure a good success, but whose unavoidable absence from the Island during the greater part of the last three months, is greatly to be regretted. One of the pioneers in the good cause, all his sympathies and energies were enlisted in the movement, and, by his influence and example, he contributed much to the grand result. In the future, we trust, there will be a greater division of labor. Let each one do something towards the grand whole, and the labor of all will be light.
- If anything were wanting to show that a large agricultural population can exist on our Island, it may be found in the display of products at this Fair. The main want of the Vineyard has been employment for young men. This want has been seriously felt. Many farmers and shipmasters, men of wealth and influence, have, from time to time, left the Island, because their sons could not settle around them here, with any good hope of earning a comfortable living; and hundreds of young men, after learning trades, have been compelled to seek employment abroad. But for this, the Vineyard to-day would have been one of the wealthiest communities in the country, and her population would have counted thousands where it now reaches hundreds. As a general thing, the loss of a young man is equal to the loss of a family of sons and daughters, who, in their turn, would also add to the common stock. But there is no real necessity for this seeking of employment abroad. Work can be performed on the Vineyard just as well as in other towns of Massachusetts, just as well as the far West, and with as good pecuniary results as anywhere. The fact is, we have never tried our hand at the vast majority of employments on which men in other communities labor and grow rich. We have stultified ourselves, by confining our ambition and aims within a certain circle. We must do better in the future. The young must be encouraged to remain on the Island. Work must be provided for them. Up then with your work shops, and in with your machinery and steam, and soon the whole aspect of things will change. But we are talking about agricultural matters now, and will not further digress. There is a large field for cultivation here, and hundreds of active laborers are wanted to till it. Let them plant it with corn and potatoes, onions and oats, turnips and carrots, apple and quince, cherry and peach, pear and other trees, pumpkins and squashes, beets and tomatoes, and the thousand other things which contribute to the sustenance and comfort of man. Then let proper care and labor be bestowed on this great field, and the cry of a want of work will no longer be heard. The people have but to take possession of the land, and it will prove their humble servant. It will fill their barns and store houses, and the whole population will be enriched. But we can say no more on this subject now.
- One of the most interesting features of the day, was the arrival on the ground of some 30 or 40 young ladies from Holmes’ Hole. They came in a rough carriage, drawn by oxen, and entered the village in high glee, singing at the top of their voices. The carriage was tastefully adorned with flags and flowers and festoons of every imaginable variety. They were received with hearty cheers.
The hall of the Academy was very tastefully arranged with pictures and paintings; and every part of it was crowded with the articles and exhibition, - the product of the soil and the product of the labor of industrious and skillful men and women, - some ladies of eight or ninety years even, having contributed to the display. The room was thronged during the whole of Wednesday, and the receipts must have been quite large. The building, however, we regret to say, proved altogether too small for the occasion, and the necessity of a new and large hall, in which to have future exhibitions, is already apparent.
- The dinner, which was served in a large tent, was just what might have been expected from those having charge of the arrangements. It was a noble entertainment, and ample justice was meted out to its various component parts by those in attendance. But we cannot dwell on this point, as we have just received a very interesting letter from Mr. Whiting, the Secretary of the Society, which we must now place in type. But before doing so, we must say one word in reference to the coffee. It was a capital article, and in great demand. Mammoth pots were emptied in a trice; but there was no lack in the supply. Mr. Hannah Look, of West Tisbury, was the grand coffee caterer on this occasion, and she is never at fault in such matters. “Barrels of coffee!” was the cry, and barrels came rolling in over the hills, up to the very entrance of the tent! - and it was all a work of love on the part of Mrs. Look, who labored cheerfully and gratuitously for the public. 
It was our intention to have noticed many of the articles on exhibition, somewhat in detail, but the Secretary has performed this labor in so much better style than we could have done it, that we have concluded to suppress our rough notes.
To the Editor of the Vineyard Gazette:
Mr. Editor, - I send you herewith such a report as I have been able to prepare, of our first Agricultural Fair and Cattle Show, with a list of the premiums which have been given to those who in the opinion of the different committees contributed the finest specimens in the various departments of the exhibition. Owing to the large and fine display of stock and other articles - the Trustees unanimously approved all of the gratuities recommended by the examining committees. Although the prizes are small in amount compared with some Societies, they are as liberal as our first awards of our first agricultural fair should not be forgotten or lightly appreciated by those who have received them.
The following is a correct list of the prizes and awards, as they were reported by the respective committees.
The exhibition of Stock was of the first order. Few Societies, of long standing, can boast of a finer display of native cattle. The number of entries for the fair was 44, and, as many of these included yokes of oxen, mares and colts, &c., the number of animals on the ground was between 60 and 70. Owing to the late hour at which some of the cattle, &c., arrived, and the much greater number than was expected or provision made to receive, some omissions were unavoidably made, and as those receiving prizes and awards are the most important as connected with our Society fair - we will not give a further list.
Of the articles within the hall, it is almost impossible to give a definite account. Our entries, up to ten o’clock on Wednesday, were 316. Of these, many articles were included in one entry - and it would be more of an undertaking to describe them than either time, or space in your paper would allow. Most of the visitors will remember the liberal and tasteful contribution of those who helped make up our really beautiful fair - and persons who have been to other exhibitions and fairs of the same kind, can bear witness to the fact, that so far as it extended, this first - and we may say impromptu - exhibition of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, will compare most favorably with those of much longer standing and much greater facilities and resources. Nobody had anticipated such a show, and nobody had prepared for it. Our contributions were therefore a sample of “ever day life,” without any attempts at extraordinary productions in any department of the exhibition; yet it was all most excellent.
The display of fruit - although not large -w as good. The basket of “Porter Apples” from the orchard of our President, Hon. Leavitt Thaxter, was superb. Also the “Roxbury Russets” from Ellis Lewis, Esq. Both would compare with any “premium fruit” of our famous Boston market. We had fine grapes, too, and quinces.
Of vegetables, we had a grand display on our tables, headed by the splendid Valparaiso squash from Mr. Thaxter’s garden. Our beets and turnips were excellent, and a sample of orange carrots, and a basket of onions, from Jophanus H. Smith, Esq., would make any farmer rejoice.
Perhaps the most remarkable of all our productions was the corn. Few counties in our state, or any state, can show more beautiful specimens of this most valuable staple, either in variety or kind. We had an exhibition not less than 42 samples, some of them most perfect specimens of the finest varieties of maize. Our show of potatoes was also good, although not many varieties. There were several lots of sweet potatoes. Those taking the premium, raised by Mr. David Mayhew of Tisbury, were very handsome potatoes, although the past season was very unfavorable to their growth.
Our fair was held so late, that most of our flowers were gone, but still the ladies were determined to have some, and many beautiful bouquets graced our tables.
Of fancy articles, it would be impossible to particularize. We had many beautiful original drawings and paintings, all, I believe from lady artists; and some beautiful samples of embroidery and needle-work, among which were many interesting relics of olden times. Perhaps there are few parts of our country where “old-fashioned things” have been more cherished and preserved, in many families, than on Martha’s Vineyard; and we hope there are many rich and curious articles yet in store for future exhibition at our fairs.
In the line of domestic manufactures, we had not so much to show; but we hope to improve in this hereafter. One article, particularly appropriate to our exhibition, was a harrow, designed and manufactured by Mr. Wm. P. Bodfish of W. Tisbury. This is an excellent implement of its kind for the farmer, uniting the properties of the harrow and cultivator. It is most highly spoken of by all who have used it. Mr. Bodfish has made several for the farmers in the vicinity of W. Tisbury. Some fine samples of cloth were exhibited by John D. Rotch, Esq., from the factory in West Tisbury. Some articles manufactured there are of the first quality, and “Vineyard flannel” has become quite celebrated.
Before closing this hurried and imperfect report of our first grand fair, I would take the occasion, in behalf of the society, and those of its officers who have been mostly engaged in its organization, to render due thanks to all those who have assisted and sympathized in the “good work.” To some of the ladies of Edgartown, Tisbury, West Tisbury, and Chilmark, we are all particularly indebted for their aid in arranging the evergreens and flowers that adorned our hall; and for many other services rendered during the exhibition. To our President, Hon. Leavitt Thaxter, we owe everything of the success that we have had. We all promised him that he should not have to work; but he has done all the work, and presided over our festivities, to the last, in his usual felicitous manner.
Towards the close of our first day, we had some interesting and appropriate addresses from several of our citizens, - Constant Norton, Esq - Edgar Marchant, Esq - Jos. T. Pease, Esq - Dr. Pierce - C. B. Allen, Esq - David Davis, Esq - and others; but time forbids any report or even comment on their remarks; suffice it, that they were good, and listened to with great pleasure and satisfaction by one of the best and largest audiences the Vineyard has ever collected together.
Whatever we have lacked in etiquette, or order, and whatever mistakes may have been made, we trust will be over-looked, and that no spirit of selfishness or prejudice will enter into the feelings of any person who had aught to do with this celebration, either as a participator or a looker-on. We have had a “good time!” and one that will be long remembered with interest and satisfaction by many of our people. May we all be benefited by the good things we have seen, and take hold of our work with renewed zeal and exertion, feeling that we have got something more to work for than we have had heretofore. There is no reward in life more valuable or more pleasant than the approbation of our fellow men; and we can always be sure of this reward, if we are but worthy of it ourselves.
Henry L. Whiting
Secretary M. V. Ag’l Society.