From the August 20, 1946 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Opening after a three-year lapse because of the war, the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society’s annual fair called the Island population on Friday to convene and to celebrate in time honored fashion. Contrary to the gloomy predictions of the pessimistic, that the lapse of time would destroy interest, the fair was a good and lively one.

More food was displayed than usual, and there were more unique exhibits of various kinds. Jane Newhall exhibited a collection of onions, with a phonograph record entitled “I’ve Got a Right to Cry.” John Wesley Mayhew Whiting and Wilfred Huntington exhibited oysters from their oyster farm at Quansoo, showing breeding stock and seed oysters in various stages.

The Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club’s exhibit filled the hall stage as usual, with an old-fashioned garden scene, with female figures in antique garments. There were also bouquets and shadow-box displays.

“Characteristic Vineyard Displays” included Johnson Whiting’s copy of the Centennial Edition of the Vineyard Gazette, with the caption “A country paper that has encouraged Vineyard farming for more than a century,” and a copy of Country Editor. Mrs. Whiting had a showcase, containing “High Lights of the Fair for Eighty-eight Years,” showing prize ribbons for livestock, photographs and newspaper clippings.

A reflection of the glory of past fairs was seen in the old-fashioned peddle cart of the S. M. Mayhew Company, that toured the Island three-quarters of a century ago. Filled with drawers, lockers and racks, it was loaded with merchandise. In contrast, the traveling store of Joseph E. Howes was parked alongside, and likewise retailing merchandise.

Still more modern was the motor plow exhibited by James A. Adams, and the harvesters of the Walker Farms.

For the rest, there was music and broadcasting by William Golden’s public address system, the first time such a system was ever used at the fair. Antone King, and his stringed orchestra filled the air with melody; a real King-sized harmony, rendering everything from the sonatas of Beethoven to the Chamarita, and boogie-woogie.

The odor of frying hot-dogs, of roasted peanuts, and the shouts of players at ring-toss, all were familiar, likewise the dialogue between Mrs. Whiting and George G. Gifford, veteran promoter of the fair, and long time officer of the Society. “Better than I expected,” said Mr. Gifford.

“I expected it would be,” she replied.

It was only at the ending of the second, and last, day of the fair that true comparisons with fairs of other years could be made. Thus, taking the attendance first, the fair this year undoubtedly broke all records for recent years.

On top of this, the first day’s sales included 300 two-day tickets. This probable total of attendance tops anything for two days chronicled by the Gazette for two-day fairs, and is far better than the majority of the three-day fairs since 1925.

Although the trustees of the society planned the August fair in the belief that more summer visitors would attend, it was noticeable, particularly on the opening day, that the majority of people present were year-round residents. On the second day the percentage was still in favor of Islanders, but not as great.

This was due, in part, to the horse show, which attracted much attention. All additional features introduced for this final day were small, but the poultry show was excellent, featuring real show birds of several varieties, notably the exhibit of H. Keyes Chadwick of Oak Bluffs and Jose Viara of Vineyard Haven, and some fascinating ducklings entered by John G. MacKenty which took an amiable interest in events, and now and then treated themselves to a shower bath from a big saucer.

The sports planned for the second day filled the air with enthusiastic shouts from the juvenile gallery. This program was affected by the same causes which have deprived most Island towns of their youthful population this summer. The age group which has commonly competed in this program is just out of the service and employed in civil life, with no vacations coming until next year, or has just entered the service. In any case, these boys are not on the Island.

This was the day that brought out the old-timers, and also the former Islanders who have roamed far. Mr. and Mrs. Eugene H. Damon of Panama appeared, proudly reporting the purchase of the Cap’n Horatio Tilton place on Middle Road. Mr. and Mrs. Flavel M. Gifford of Fairhaven made a special trip to the Island to attend the fair, likewise Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Richards of New York city, and various others, who might be classed as off-Islanders, but whose heart-strings are firmly attached to the Vineyard. Reviving an ancient custom, abandoned many years ago, a dance concluded the fair, with King’s Orchestra supplying the music. Not for more than a quarter century has the old hall witnessed a ball as a grand finale to the annual fair, and it was well attended.

Compiled by Hilary Wall