From Gazette editions of late summer, 1935:

The future of the annual fair of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society is still uncertain, and opinion is divided as to what the contribution of the fair to Island life ought to be. Looking backward, it is easy to see how the development of the Vineyard as a summer resort gradually subordinated the fair, and, indeed, what the fair represented. One of the most obvious instances was the old discussion as to whether the fair should be held early, in order to bring it within the period of summer business, or whether it should be held later in order to have the best displays of grains, fruits and winter vegetables.

On Nantucket, if we recall correctly, the county fair was changed into a summer event, finally becoming nothing much but a horse show, with social rather than agricultural implications. This year the institution was abandoned entirely.

If anything could restore the importance of the Vineyard fair to that degree which it had for years after it was established through the energy and interest of Henry L. Whiting, probably the current depression would be the restoring force. For there is today a revaluation of the factors of life, and in this revaluation nothing is more important than the conviction that a basic agriculture is essential to the independence and long term prosperity of Martha’s Vineyard. Since it is vital to maintain and strengthen our agriculture, the annual county fair certainly has a function to perform.

Transportation is so easy nowadays that Islanders meet often, and the fair is no longer the outstanding convention of neighbors and friends from afar that it used to be. Once the fair grounds were visited by many Islanders for the purpose of seeing their friends, some of whom they met hardly once a year. This is not the case today. Other fair ground traditions, like this, have lapsed with the progress of the years.

But with the recognition that agriculture is still an urgent need of the Vineyard, and the fact that the fair has this need to serve, new conceptions of its usefulness ought to be forming, and its future course ought to be more and more clearly defined.

It is to be hoped that the fair will be well supported this year, and that the entry lists will be well filled.

Facts worth knowing from Burt’s Poultry Farm: Our August egg production was 3,500 eggs weekly and our demand was more than double that amount. Our customers had complete confidence in the quality of our eggs and the fairness of our business dealings. We bought no outside eggs, although this is a common practice in summer among many Island farmers. We will winter a thousand hens to supply our Island trade.

The Vineyard’s first market day proved a success in spite of the rain, virtually all the products being offered sold early in the day. The amount of goods sold was not as great as it might have been had there been more vegetables on sale. Vegetables, except for potatoes, were not supplied in any large quantity, but there was no dearth of other products.

The stock in trade offered gave the Agricultural Hall a fair time aspect, with the counters covered with jellies, jams, preserves, cakes, cookies and great kettles of chowder of Island chicken and shellfish. Fresh killed Island lamb, various fruits, including watermelons, were included. The flower gardens had contributed to the display. Paintings, on canvas, scallop shells and paper were offered, and a great stack of Indian goods, beadwork, weapons and clay articles from Gay Head.

Some of the individual producers who brought their goods to market sold as much as $50 worth. Such results were pleasing and various people voiced the sentiment that the market day idea should be an annual, semi-annual or even monthly event during the summer. It seems probable now that another market day will be held next year and probably several of them.

The next important appointment of nature is with the wild grapes which will soon be ripening. Those who keep this engagement will be rewarded with the pleasure of the Vineyard outdoors, and the fragrance and flavor of grapes which no cultivated vines equal in individual character.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner