For four days, the 156th Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair put West Tisbury at center stage for late summer activities. Although the weather took fairgoers on a journey of near biblical proportions, neither pounding rain nor blistering sun could keep the crowds away.

John Girouard's draft horses Chuck and Bob haul three tons. — Jeanna Shepard

Friday’s rainstorm turned the fairgounds into veritable mud pits. But not for long. When the weather cleared the next day so did spirits — the midway pulsed in its hold over children with parents in tow, and the events ring held court with burly woodsmen, statuesque draft horses, dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments and women tossing skillets with the same gusto and accuracy as the axe throwers.

And, of course, there was the food, from tacos and burgers to funnel cake and cotton candy. No one went home with an empty stomach.

On Friday, the draft horses showed that rain could not out-muscle them. In fact, the wet weather kept the dust to a minimum and the hardworking animals cool. Those watching (who weren’t pulling up to 8,800 pounds) kept umbrellas close at hand.

Sheep keep fleece dry during Friday's rainstorm. — Jeanna Shepard

Jay and Frank, Abe and Rocky, and Tom and Ted competed in the lightweight division. The announcer pointed to a new safety fence at the end of the rink, built after a draft horse escaped at the fair last year.

In the outside stables, cows greeted the weather by lying down. Inside the barn, chickens clucked and shifted in their pens. Brian Athearn of Runamok Farm in West Tisbury and Tom Rancich held a two-month old sheep named Heather, a cross between a Dorset sheep and a Texel sheep. Heather was still acclimating to wearing a halter, and occasionally trying to run off.

“Most of my sheep I could walk through a Macy’s,” said Mr. Athearn.

Dwight Kaeka hauls 10,000 pounds in tractor pull. — Mark Lovewell

But with Mr. Rancich’s calming grip and a trowel full of corn covered in molasses (a rare treat) from Mr. Athearn, she was learning.

“They’re at the fair. Everybody gets a treat at the fair,” Mr. Athearn said.

Back outside at the heavyweight division of the horse pull, six teams lined up, including those who competed in the lightweight division. The rain was falling in earnest and the bleachers remained relatively empty as spectators crowded under trees and umbrellas.

Nothing but fun on the swings. — Mark Lovewell

During the competition, one horse threw a shoe and had to be reshod on the field. Another, Jay, stopped wearing his blinders, due to a broken halter, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance at all.

The horses pulled up to 10,600 pounds before it was declared a three-way tie and judges stopped the competition due to the weather. With the rain pounding down, the fairgrounds had emptied considerably. Painted horses on the merry-go-round stood still, no riders mounted or waiting in line, and the Ferris wheel spun lazily, every carriage empty except for rain drops.

On Saturday morning volunteers readjusted plastic fencing to create pathways to start the third day of the fair. By mid-morning the clouds had disappeared, replaced by a clear blue sky, and the ground, although still muddy in places, began to dry.

Best in Show winner Pearl, right, poses with her brother, Walter. — Alison L. Mead

And the crowds returned too, trickling through the gate as the sounds of chainsaws ripped through the air.

Just inside the fairgrounds, about 200 people squeezed into the small area of shade by the Pulling Ring. Many fanned themselves with newspapers as the morning sun started to sizzle. Matt Galabos was undeterred by the heat as he introduced the participants in the 41st annual Woodsmen Contest,

The first heat had three women battling it out to make three slices in a large beam as quickly as possible. A woman named Brenda set the record to be beat with a time of 5.6 seconds.

Annual skillet throw is tough competition. — Alison L. Mead

Participants had nicknames like Bull’s Eye and Buckwheat printed on their shirts. Mr. Galabos told the crowd that Buckwheat had never once shaved his upper lip. His moustache was “virgin timber,” he said.

As the heats progressed, raffle tickets for two chainsaws and a cord of wood from Island company Lickety Split Logs were sold. “We’re changing lives here,” said Mr. Galabos, adding that everyone remembers their first chainsaw.

Elsewhere on the grounds, the Blue Hill brass band made an impromptu stage under the shade of a tree. Down By the River and Uptown Funk got little children jumping and bobbing.

Vivian Tatum with blue ribbon winner Lilly. — Alison L. Mead

Inside the exhibit hall of homegrown entries, the air was still. A glass case of butter dripped with condensation. A few flies bumped into the case of baked goods. In the junior preserving category, Sara C. Payne, 14, won so many awards for her pineapple, mint, peach jelly that the judges had to pin them around her translucent green jars. “Bravo” and “gorgeous” were written on her tag.

In the produce category, there were creamy white patty pan squashes, oxblood-colored onions and Indigo Rose tomatoes that faded from nearly black to pale green. Five purple peppers won a big purple ribbon for “most outstanding vegetable.”

Back out on the midway, a father held his young son on his lap at the top of the Super Slide. The boy yelled and kicked until they started to descend. Then his face melted into a grin and the pair slid out of sight.

Quilts to woodwork, lots to admire in the Ag Hall. — Mark Lovewell

Sunday brought with it the dog show, and most of the early arrivals to the fair had canine companions in tow. Barks pierced the air as owners discussed their breeds. Handlers received last minute advice and double checked their treat supplies. Then Rosemarie Haigazian, who has organized the dog show for 42 years, made the announcement for the first category, mixed breeds, to enter the ring.

As the pets made their way around the ring, the judges looked on, spoke with the handlers and interacted with the dogs. They awarded ribbons based on temperament, appearance and more intangible factors, like the stories shared by handlers.

One entry presented a challenge to the judges, as the breed is not yet American Kennel Club approved. So Libby, an exotic barbet, received an honorable mention. Typically for breeds with only one entry, the contestant automatically receives first place, unless he or she misbehaves. Behavior varied among contestants; some laid down mid-trot and one was carried briefly by her handler.

Skylar Stevenson practices her craft in the fiber tent. — Mark Lovewell

Pearl, an English bulldog wearing a pink harness, was named best in show.

Spectators started to drift away from the dog show around 11 a.m., as they made their way to another animal attraction, Robinson’s Racing Pigs. Oreo cookies served as an effective lure for the squealing racers. Raring to go, Justin Biebercue secured the treat with his speedy performance.

The 20th annual women’s skillet throw drew a crowded field of 74 competitors. Jane Bollin won the championship and recorded the longest throw of the day: 56 feet, seven inches.

Taking a peek inside the pulling ring. — Maria Thibodeau

At the midway, a clown sat above a pool of his own in Drown the Clown. He heckled those attempting to dunk him with a terrifying laugh and sarcastic barbs. Beside him was the Zipper, where riders clung to bars inside metal cages as they soared through the air. Jackson Munson, 8, staggered out after a dizzying few minutes on board. He proclaimed the ride awesome, if a little scary.

“It’s my new favorite ride,” he said. And he is an expert, having tried them all, except the Gravitron. Even Jackson has his limits.

At the end of day fairgoers trickled out, many headed down-Island to attend the rescheduled Oak Bluffs fireworks. Others headed home, either on-Island or to awaiting ferries and their off-season lives. The end of the fair means many things, but perhaps highest on the ladder is the approaching school year.

By Monday morning the fairgrounds were a place of disassembly, with rides packed up on trailers and being transported slowly down State Road. Booths stood empty and the ferris wheel looked rather somber in the early morning light, with no crowds to entertain. And somewhere in the distance an anonymous voice called out, sounding very much like the angry clown, declaring Martha’s Vineyard a place of weak arms and no aim. He hadn’t been dunked nearly enough.

More photos from the Agricultural Fair.