Best Fest – A joyful celebration for the start of the 2nd summer


The third annual Best Fest, an all day/all night multi-venue community party, has been intentionally scheduled for the week when many locals are breathing a big post-season sigh of relief.

“For most people who live here it’s the beginning of the summer,” says founder/organizer Rob Myers, “because they’ve been busy all summer. The weather is still good and it’s our time to enjoy the Island.”

Mr. Myers, a musician, actor, deejay, and all around high-energy go-getter, has, in the past few years, spearheaded a number of successful Island events bringing together music, theater, and the visual arts. For the third year in a row, he is the force behind the popular Best Fest, which he launched in September 2010 to help support the nonprofit community radio station WVVY. The festival, per its mission statement, is “The joyful celebration of music and arts and the way they nourish and cultivate a healthy, sustainable community.” And though he is bringing in a few musical groups from off-Island, most all of the talent is of the home grown variety.

Among those lending their artistry to the festival will be some of the most popular local musicians including Good Night Louise, Ballywho, Jellybone Rivers, WVVY DJs, dozens of visual artists, two groups of puppeteers, dancers from The Yard in Chilmark, and an off-Island marching band that will lead a summer ending blowout parade through Oak Bluffs to the evening event venue, the new Dreamland Ballroom.

The daytime portion of the festival, to take place in Veira Park adjacent to the Oak Bluffs Little League Field, will include music, a puppet show, food, vendor booths, kids activities, clowns and other circus acts, lawn games and a kickball game in the Little League Field. The FARM Institute will host a tomato tasting.

Artist and WVVY deejay Darcie Lee Hanaway will be coordinating a community art project. Throughout the course of the afternoon, local artists will work alongside community members to create a number of four by eight foot murals on canvas-wrapped plywood hung along the perimeter of the Little League field. Ms. Hanaway is seeking donations of drop cloths, acrylic and latex paint (including house paint), and the loan of brushes of all types. The murals, along with a seven-foot wire sculpture by Steve Lohman, will decorate Dreamland Ballroom in the evening and eventually be auctioned off at the A Gallery in Vineyard Haven.

The parade, starting at 8 pm, will feature a 20-piece brass band from Providence called the Extraordinary Rendition Band and 20 foot high puppets. The parade has been a staple of the Best Fest – with the colorfully clad brass band leading the festivities – for the past two years. The parade route was yet to be established as of press time but it will begin on Dukes County Avenue where it will work its way along the Arts District. A stop at Post Office Square and in front of Dreamland will give audience members an opportunity to dance and join in the carnival atmosphere.

The party at Dreamland, officially referred to as the Best Fest Ball, starts at 9 pm. Mr. Myers encourages people to get dressed up and celebrate the spirit of the original Dreamland Ballroom, a venue which operated at the turn of the century during the town’s heyday as an entertainment locale. Says Mr. Myers, “For the first time in a long time there is a venue in Oak Bluffs with that kind of capacity.” Dreamland was relaunched as a performance space earlier this summer. “We are celebrating the historical significance of the reopening of the Dreamland Ballroom,” says Mr. Myers. “Dreamland is a big blank slate right now. We are going to absolutely transform the place with all this art hanging from the rafters.”

The lineup for the evening’s entertainment will include hip hop, punk rock and indie rock provided by local bands – The Kahoots, Mercy Beat, DJ Di, The Loogies and Japanese Monster from Somerville. Jellybone Rivers (AKA Rob Myers) will emcee the event. The Greener Pastures Club from Providence will play a set and then join the Extraordinary Rendition Band.

“The third year is going to blossom,” said Mr. Myers, who Ms. Hanaway refers to as “the hardest working man in Martha’s Vineyard show business.” No doubt.

Best Fest, Saturday, Sept. 8, Veira Park, Oak Bluffs. Outdoor music & festivities from 3–7:30 pm. Bring chairs or blankets & your own picnic. $10 suggested donation. Vendor space available for $10.

Parade, 8–9 pm, various locations around Oak Bluffs.

Best Fest Ball follows at Dreamland at 9 pm, 18 + event. $10. All proceeds go to WVVY radio.