Before this Friday, I had never been to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.

It is a shameful confession for a farm columnist to make. How could I claim to be an authority on the Island farming when I had never attended its biggest event? This inadequacy has weighed on me all summer, like a yoke upon the neck of an overburdened ox. And so, I shipped off to the fair on Friday morning, when the veggies were still fresh, and the animals well-rested. The brass trio was playing and I was feeling good.

My first stop was the fiber tent, for a tutorial on the mechanics of great wheel cotton spinning. The basic goal, I learned, was to repeatedly twist short cotton fibers into a single long thread. The details went over my head — the spinning wheel functions via a multi-step rotary mechanism that my non-mechanical mind couldn’t fully grasp.

I also learned about the great wheel’s miniature cousin, the charkha, which packs all the wheels and twists into a hand-held package (the great wheel, for comparison, is about five feet tall). Gandhi was a major proponent of the device, encouraging poor peasants to spin their own cotton on it and avoid British textile taxes. Maybe politics is all about the economy, but at its core the economy is all about farming.

I was about to go further on my fibrous knowledge with a flax lesson when my attention was pulled to the sheep shearing demonstration outside.

“If they start to struggle, just stay nice and calm and keep going,” I heard the announcer say, as a sheep started to shimmy and squirm in the hands of its sheerer. “You don’t want to fight with a sheep.”

That fresh haircut, though, must have been refreshing on such a hot august day.

Curious Bleu doing what he does best. — Thomas Humphrey

My attention was once again jerked away, this time into the animal barn. There, I met Carole Soule, a New Hampshire farmer who brings her cows (and other four-legged friends) to the fair each year.

“Other ag fairs are so commercial” she told me. “But this is the way I always pictured old fairs to be.”

The star of her entourage is Curious Bleu, a red highlander cow who laid contentedly chewing in his stall, wearing a big floppy hat. Bleu, Mrs. Soule noted, is a consummate professional. When she’s nervous in the ring, he always seems to say, “Carole, let’s just boogie.”

It wasn’t just the bovine who made an impression — Fred Fisher’s group of suckling Yorkshire piglets were oft cited as some of the fair’s cutest competitors. I found out that the familiar looking piglets actually had the same father as the famous North Tabor Farm “breadcrumb” piglets. But swine were also the most mischievous of livestock. Barn manager Julie Scott, in an email on Monday, described how one pig bolted when her six-year-old owner left a gate open.

“Barn staff and the kid’s dad worked swiftly in tandem with Andy Rice’s border collie Meg to get the pig back into custody,” she wrote. And “the pig owner’s heroic dad grabbed him and held him and then we jumped in to help carry the pig back to her pen.”

The culprit, a 100 pound piggie, was “fine after the hootenanny.”

Flower power. — Thomas Humphrey

There were too many animals to give full credit to here. Each deserves their own column. But as a veggie-partisan to my core, I must say that the hall was even more exciting. There, the Vineyard’s cornucopian bounty was splayed out for all to see. There were explosive bouquets, multicolored okra, mutant zucchini, bountiful blueberries. Most impressive were Kristen Brown’s massive, scraggly beets, each one the size of a football or bigger, and doubtless sugary sweet.

That being said, I think I saw a few categories where I have a chance to contend for a ribbon. And so, dear reader, I will be submitting my veggies to the hall next year, and I encourage all of you to do so as well. The only way to keep these veggie growers on their toes is with a little healthy competition.