Martha’s Vineyard Ag Fair highlights – Don’t miss ’em

Robinson's Racing Pigs are Fair favorites. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Every year traditional favorites from food to competitions, exhibits, rides, and music draw crowds to the Ag Fair. And every year new attractions appear, while some old standards grow or get a new look. Some depart, some return, all to the delight of the thousands who pack the Fairgrounds.

New this year, the Corn Husking Contest on Friday afternoon is a fun old-fashioned event for kids and youths 6 to 18. Rip the husks off six ears of corn, the neater the better, and win a prize for finishing first. No sampling allowed. Corn will be used for livestock feed so the animals will win too.

Back by popular demand are Robinson’s Racing Pigs, after a year’s absence. Devoted fans will be thrilled to cheer on the perky little porkers who tear around their elaborate track like NASCAR models and love their Oreos. Packed with porcine energy, the piglets race several times daily.

Veggies get into speedster mode on Thursday afternoon for the second annual Vegetable Car Racing Competition. Fast squash, hurtling pumpkins, rapid carrots, are prepared for the road under the watchful eye of organizer Karen Ogden. Outside the Ag Hall. You have to be there.

From Boston’s North Shore comes Mike Piazza and his Flying High Frisbee Dogs. The agile canines will leap and soar on Thursday and Friday.

Though tucked away at the rear of the Fairgrounds, the Antique Tractor Show first thing Saturday morning is heard if not seen. Engines roar and whine as the vintage tractors rear up and strain to drag an increasingly heavy load. Only a few years old, the event begun by Dale McClure attracts bigger crowds each year.

Expect more contestants, more fish, and more fun at this year’s Clam and Oyster Shucking Contest thanks to a shift from Friday to Saturday afternoon. The zany but exacting competition sees shells flying and happy onlookers sampling the shucked bivalves complete with cocktail sauce. There’s smoked fish and upbeat commentary by Kenny Goldberg too.

Ladies can take a time out for some fanciful hair adornments by Seniel Seward, owner of Circuit Style in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Seward, 27, a regional high school grad, is known for creative, cutting edge hair styling. She will offer an array of ideas for bringing a fun new look to your hairdo at her booth at the rear of the Ag Hall. You will leave looking prettier than ever.

Look for the 36th annual Woodsman’s Contest to be especially action packed this year. Heather Maciel, organizer with her husband, Vincent, says professional level classes have been added making the Saturday competition more challenging than ever. The “Single Buck” features one person wielding a six-foot saw and according to Ms. Maciel will be held here for the first time in New England. A whopping 50 contestants have signed up to saw and chop their way through nearly 20 events. A relay class, with teams of five top contestants showing their different skills, is a fun addition.

“It will be something to watch,” said Ms. Maciel. “It will be exciting.”

When it’s time for a snack with a new Fair flavor, Peter Simon and Melody Cunningham’s popular Irie Bites Food Truck will serve traditional Jamaican dishes. The emphasis will be on their popular spicy jerk chicken, but there will be sides like vegetable patties, rice and beans, and salads too. Chilled tropical beverages offer a taste of that other island.

Visitors to the Fiber Tent can meet a friendly alpaca or wooly sheep, try their hand at spinning or weaving, and be inspired by demonstrations of traditional fiber arts. Children can spin with special drop spindles and will receive a hand-spun bracelet just for coming. The popular spinning and chop stick knitting contests for adults and youth are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons.

Beth Goodell’s Island Gymnastics students offer a training demo early Friday evening. Who needs the Olympics when we can watch talented young Vineyarders?

Puppet fans will rejoice to find two creative puppet acts to choose from. Youngest Fairgoers and the young at heart love the wacky antics of Toe Jam, where audience members can get into the act. The Puppetoke Puppets bring sophisticated themes to the stage with clever humor that appeals to all ages.

If you like the Beatles then you’ll love the Daytrippers. Showcasing well-known Island musicians, this Beatles cover band has become a local favorite and will appear on The Fair stage Thursday night. The stage will be jumping throughout the weekend with the emphasis on Vineyard groups, including the Stragglers, Entrain, Good Night Louise, Kelly Peters and his Hip Hop group, and off-Island talent too.

In a mood for more mellow music to end the day? Wander down toward the livestock barn beside the bleachers to the Acoustic Corner, where Tristan Israel, Nancy Jephcote, Paul Thurlow, and friends play traditional favorites under the stars.