West Tisbury's Agricultural Hall was filled to the rafters with booths and tables displaying the best of the Island's arts and crafts. Through the open barn doors one could view the displays and exhibits that dotted the green lawn surrounding the hall. A bluegrass band sent strummed melodies into the air as aromas wafted from a nearby grill tent. Everywhere, cheerful vendors and customers were enjoying the last vestiges of summer. What more could you want?
It was all taking place at last weekend's 14th Annual Labor Day Vineyard Artisans Festival in West Tisbury. This event is part of a series of Artisan Festivals that spans the summer season. The twice-weekly Artisans Festivals at The Grange, and the larger event at the Ag Hall, bring together an array of Island artists and vendors who offer many unusual, original handmade goods. Judging by the crowded parking lot, and the din of vendors and visitors, the event was successful.
Photos by Susan Safford
"It's really been fantastic," said festival manager Andrea Rogers on Sunday. Her booth displayed natural scents, herbs, dried flowers and rustic handmade brooms. "We have had a great showing. They are coming in droves today. This is really remarkable. We have been packed all day."
The Festival presents artists' depictions of Island life and Island style on canvas, in photographs, books and three-dimensional media. Island furniture makers showed off their skills with their cabinets and bureaus carefully displayed to highlight their craftsmanship. Candle makers, basket makers, weavers, wool spinners and woodcrafters were all in evidence.
Nancy Noble Gardner, who has been a vendor at the Festival for eight years, echoed the vendors' delight as she sat at her booth of photographs in the middle of the bustling hall. "It's been well attended and everyone seems really enthusiastic," she said, her photos arranged at eye level behind her. "I get a very nice feeling from the crowd. And I'm doing okay. You have to understand with this economy it's harder for people. But people are coming through and buying things. And there have been a few of those really happy moments when something flies off the wall."
"I come every year, and keep telling myself to leave my money in the car," said Amanda Rosen, a yearly Island visitor from Boston. "I say that because I know I am not only going to get a little something, but a few not-so-little somethings. I just can't help it. It's worth it in the long run."
The Labor Day Artisans Festival marks the end of a cycle for many Island artists. Not only is Labor Day the last best chance to reach the visitors who are looking to take a piece of the Island back home, but it is also a chance to celebrate the end of the busy season.
"The vendors are the best," said Ms. Rogers. "Everyone is supportive of one another. It makes it that much nicer. People are greeted with smiles. We really help each other very much. It really is a great community."