After eighty-four consecutive years of existence the Dukes County Agricultural fair will be discontinued, for this year at least. State premiums have been cut to a minimum, and the receipts normally expected from the gate and other sources of revenue are not expected to be sufficient to cover expenses. Such was the announcement made by George G. Gifford, secretary of the association, yesterday. Charles G. Norton is the president of the association.

The society was largely founded through the efforts of Prof. Henry L. Whiting of West Tisbury, whose deep interest in the agricultural possibilities of the Island, not to mention the raising of livestock, inspired the far-reaching effort.

The fair has been an Island institution, a thing accepted, planned for, and respected. And while the abandonment this year, of the time-honored observance, is designated as, “for the duration,” the prevailing Island belief is that the fair is no more.

It strikes a discouraging note, coming as it does at a time like this, with the country at war, because, despite, loyalty, patriotism and faith, it is human to make comparisons. Looking backward, therefore, to the most turbulent and hazardous hour of the country’s history, namely the Civil War, one finds that in the same editions of the Vineyard Gazette which carry accounts of defeated armies, long, sobering casualty lists, the destruction of Island ships and the depletion of all commodities - along with these, plus editorials, in which the failure of business is lamented, is a lengthy account of the Dukes County Annual Fair and Cattle Show, with columns of premium lists, and friendly comment.

Conditions Then and Now

America has been accused of becoming soft, and comparing the old Gazette account of the fair, with the present announcement the casual observer might be inclined to feel that people of today “can’t take it” as their grandfathers did. For in that time there were more Island men actually in battle than there are in the armed services today. The living of the Island people was chiefly that which they could wrest through their own efforts from sea and soil. Their entire economic structure had collapsed through the loss of their whaleships in which all their wealth was invested. Yet they would not give up their fair!

Today, the federal government asks only economical use of transportation, definitely stating that where no long hauls of persons or livestock are involved, the fairs may properly be held. The Vineyard has felt little of the pinch of disturbed economics or the scarcity of commodities. There have so far been none of the tragic shocks due to the outcome of battles in places, near or far. But the fair has been abandoned, probably for good. Sic transit Gloria Mundi, and likewise bends the gristle which was formerly the backbone of the community!