Put off a day due to the torrential rain, the town of Vineyard Haven staged its birthday celebration with the usual overabundance of food, drink and merry making that make the Tisbury Street Fair a summer tradition of the first magnitude. And the delay worked out just as well: Saturday evening the skies were blue and the sun warm, a welcome setting for the fair, now in its 34th year.


"I think it's a beautiful night in Tisbury," fire chief John Schilling said. "Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves."

Attendance at this year's fair seemed lower than in years past, possibly due to the fair's being postponed. Portions of Main street that are usually standing-room-only during the event were open enough for children to wave balloons with abandon and strollers to pass through the crowds two-abreast. Still, turnout was good and by 7:30 p.m. the end of Main street was clogged with people waiting in line for the legendary lobster rolls, bottlenecking around booths or stopping to catch up with friends not seen since last summer.

"There's no such thing as people not coming out for this. The turnout seems good," said Cora Medeiros, seated like royalty at the end of the parade on a van tailgate behind the family lobster roll booth. Mrs. Medeiros is one of the founders of the street fair and until this year helped plan the event.

This year she turned the reigns over to her daughter, Kathy Rogers. On Saturday Ms. Rogers was hard at work spooning lobster salad onto rolls and into waiting hands at the booth.


The rolls were only one of the culinary delights available at the fair. All along Main street, spires of smoke signaled something good was cooking. The aroma of grilling sausage, peppers and onions called people over to the Martha's Vineyard Youth Hockey table where Bob Perry and Patricia Bergeron were busy manning the grills while Thomas Wilkins, 10, who plays on the team, handled delivery to customers.

Down the street, Zephrus offered a decidedly portable treat this year: turkey legs. Soaked overnight in special brine and roasted for four hours, the large legs, resembling caveman clubs, could be seen clutched by fair-goers throughout the street.

Not far away, a long line snaked through the crowd as people waited for a street fair favorite, hot fried dough prepared fresh by St. Augustine's Church. Myrna Araujo said the booth had sold more than 1,200 pieces of dough by 7:30 p.m. - and had a long line of patrons still waiting. Cotton candy, ice cream, cookies and pie were also available, topping off the dining experience.

Two booths were also hard at work wetting whistles.


Christ United Methodist Church volunteers were squeezing limeade and lemonade, employing an assembly line approach to keep up with demand. Barbara Donald, who manned the cash box, said the booth usually sells about 800 drinks at the fair, if they squeeze continuously. On Union street, the Martha's Vineyard Big Brothers-Big Sisters were also squeezing up a storm, offering fresh lemonade with a shaken-not-stirred approach, shaking the squeezed juice and ice together before serving it. Program director Janice Perrin said the team had the system down and expected a lucrative night.

"We did this at the Jaws Fest, so we knew it would be a success," she said. "We raised $1,000 at the Jaws Fest and hope to raise the same if not more."

Further down Union street, children tried to touch the skies, scaling an artificial climbing wall erected by Island Cove Mini Golf and Climbing Wall. Nearby, an inflatable castle bounced and undulated as children hopped and giggled inside its mesh and net walls. Seven-year-old Emma Caron clutched a wispy spindle of blue cotton candy that was nearly as big as her. She walked down Union street with her brother, Taber, five, and their dad, Dave Caron. After considering all there was to do at the fair, Emma said the cotton candy was the best part.

As the sky slowly darkened, the crowd thickened and upper Main street grew clogged. Ponies and blue butterflies in the form of colorful balloons floated over the mass. James C. Cage, in his trademark black floppy top hat, was manning the helium tanks for Rose Bud Balloons. He said they had sold out of Barney balloons by 7 p.m. and, indeed, the purple dinosaur could be seen smiling above the crowd.


A number of nonprofit organizations were at the fair. The Martha's Vineyard Harley Riders were raffling off a new 2005 Springer Softail motorcycle, with proceeds going to several Island charities. The Vineyard Nursing Association handed out fresh flowers to all the ladies at the fair to raise awareness for women's health. They also announced the upcoming Temptations concert at the Hot Tin Roof on August 19, which will benefit the association.

Tucked in the shade of the Capawock Theatre, Henry Burt manned the Tisbury Police Relief Association booth, selling T-shirts and golf towels embroidered with the department seal. Mr. Burt said he expected to raise about $500 at the fair, which will be put toward two college scholarships. The Rotary Club of Martha's Vineyard was again raffling off 50 pounds of lobster, with Rotarians easy to spot in their trademark lobster hats. This year, the money they raise will be donated to the scholarship program administered by the fire department association.

Along with food and fundraising, Tisbury merchants were out in force. The store famous for its funky stock, Hello, had an eclectic collection of goods for sale at half price. The Green Room had racks of clothes and shoes out for the event and Peter Simon signed books and calendars at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore.


Outside the bookstore, events coordinator Ann Bassett agreed the crowds were down, she didn't necessarily see that as a bad thing.

"It seems not quite as crowded, so it's more friendly," she said. "The street fair is the ultimate social event and I think this is a very good one."