Fair is perfect blend of old and new

The popular Gravitron ride will be back this year. — Ralph Stewart

“Very little has changed,” longtime Fair manager Eleanor Neubert said about this year’s highlights. “We’re keeping it the old-fashioned traditional country fair.”

But although much is pleasantly familiar, this 153rd Ag Fair offers some appealing new features too.

Lemurs top the list for new and unusual attractions. Although the ever-popular Robinson’s Racing Pigs have sprinted away, these furry, long-tailed, big-eyed creatures are sure to win the hearts of Fairgoers.

Along with viewing six races daily, visitors may learn about the exotic Madagascar natives through Winners Circle Lemur Encounter educational exhibits. When not on tour, the lemurs live safely in Iowa at a private animal sanctuary.

Fair organizers believe that this is the first time lemurs have ever set foot on Martha’s Vineyard.

Thousands of Vineyard Fair patrons have enjoyed refreshing and delicious fruit drinks blended by Michael Youngman at his Dancing Smoothies booth, served with a smile and classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes. After more than 30 years Mr. Youngman has decided to take a well-deserved rest from the fair circuit. But thanks to Mac Cook of Chilmark, “Mr. Smoothie” will go on!

This winter Mr. Youngman and his wife, Paula, contacted Mr. Cook, asking if he would be interested in taking over the popular booth. They became friends after decades at the Fair together, Mr. Cook at Bill Smith’s Martha’s Vineyard Clambakes booth, where he’s worked since 1977.

Mr. Cook and his brother, Roger, visited the Youngmans in Vermont to learn recipes and routines. Mr. Cook built a new booth, but the style is identical to the old one, with Beatles music, tie dye, and stuffed animals. He pledges the product will be exactly the same. Smoothie lovers can be assured that their favorite icy pineapple, banana, peach, strawberry treat awaits them.

“We’ll do it the same way we do the booth with Bill Smith gone,” Mr. Cook said. “We do it to honor him and in the spirit he did it for many years. We want it to be similar with Michael’s booth.”

Daredevil fans of scary rides will be thrilled to see that LMC Amusements has brought back the popular Gravitron after a several years’ absence. If that isn’t spine-tingling enough, the Zipper, new last year, will be back for more heart-stopping chills.

Chocoholics rejoice! Newest on the local midway is Enchanted Chocolates of Oak Bluffs, offering fudge, almond butter crunch, and even chocolate-covered frozen bananas. April Knight of Aunt Simone’s Caramel Apple Cake has added devilish chocolate cake to her menu.

The Tisbury School eighth grade is raising funds with the sale of watermelon, penny candy, and raffle tickets for tempting prizes.

New in 2013 and reviving an old-fashioned Fair tradition, the Tug-o-War will be held Sunday, Aug. 24, at 10:30 am. Last year, courageous Fair staff faced off against a hefty Morning Glory Farm team. Organizers are looking for more teams to join in, adding to the good times.

Melinda DeFeo has assumed responsibility for the Fiber Tent, organized for many years by Glenn Jackson. Though Mr. Jackson will be missed, Ms. DeFeo is sure to keep the tent lively and educational.

There are some new looks. The Livestock Barn boasts a reshingled roof thanks to Roy Riley. A new wooden fence surrounds the Show Ring, completed by Watercourse Construction. Barn Manager Bob Hungerford oversaw the project. Ms. Neubert noted that the original fence, generously donated by the late Anne and Tony Fisher, had to be replaced after 20 years.