Tivoli Day promises to be fun-filled
The Yahoo Travel website may have to add another star to its current five-star rating for Tivoli Day, because this year's edition is going to be bigger and better than ever.
"Tivoli spelled backwards is I love it," said Dennis daRosa, president of the Oak Bluffs Association (OBA) and chairman of the OBA-sponsored event. It's a sentiment shared by many about the late-season street fair.
Beginning at 12 noon on Saturday, Sept. 19, the 32nd Tivoli Day, the annual street fair on Circuit Avenue, will open with racks and tables lining the street filled with merchandise at bargain prices. Island residents are advised to complete business downtown by 9 am. "We'll be closed to vehicular traffic by then," Mr. daRosa said.
For Ron DiOrio, Circuit Avenue retailer (Craftworks) and Oak Bluffs selectman, Tivoli Day is a community day as well as a business opportunity. "You get to meet and greet each other, people you haven't really seen all summer," he said. "It's always a good business boost and a great way to celebrate the end of summer."
Tivoli Day represents the OBA's efforts to extend the season in Oak Bluffs beyond the busy months of July and August. For 32 years, Tivoli Day's caretakers have been tweaking and expanding the event that began as a local bicycle race in 1977.
"Back then, we blocked off Circuit Avenue for a bike race circling Ocean Park," Mr. daRosa said. "We saw that shopkeepers came out to watch it. We did it for years. As vehicular traffic built over the years and a competitive pro-am bike race emerged, we consolidated Tivoli Day on Circuit Avenue and focused on shopping, music, and entertainment."
Mr. daRosa explained the roots of Tivoli Day's name: "There is a direct link to the Tivoli building, a 19th century edifice which stood where the police station now stands," he said, noting that in Oak Bluffs's heyday as a summer resort for high society, The Tivoli was the social centerpiece.
"So when we started Tivoli Day, Ed Coogan, then a selectman, and Mike Wild, a founder of the Martha's Vineyard Commission, came up with a name synonymous with fun," Mr. daRosa said.
Contributing to the festivities is the variety of food being served. Over the past few years, restaurants have lent a bistro style air to the event, setting up their tables outside.
"It's caught on. More restaurants are going to be open and serving on the street in front of their places," Mr. daRosa says, naming more than 20 eateries including Oyster Bar, Slice of Life, Deon's, Jimmy Sea's, Mr. Pugg's Mugg, Skinny's Fat Sandwiches, Sharky's, Linda Jeans, Seasons, Park Corner Bistro, Offshore Ale, MV Gourmet Café & Bakery, Sidecar, Zapotec, Coop deVille, Mocha Mott's, Island Bar and Grill, Smoke N Bones, and Giordano's.
The day's entertainment will be extended three more hours, and include a dance party from 6 to 8 pm. Along with Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, musicians Phil daRosa, Mike Martin y Los Rootsticks, Ballywho, and Chad & Rock will fill the evening with a high-energy danceable mix.
In addition to artisan crafts and street entertainers, Tivoli Day will feature The Wheelmen, spinning around Circuit Avenue on their antique bicycles. Mr. daRosa said, "They love their hobby and enjoy talking with people and demonstrating their bikes."
Tivoli Day, Saturday, Sept. 19, 12 noon-5 pm on Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, followed by a street dance party from 6-8 pm. Rain date will be Sunday, Sept. 20.
Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Martha's Vineyard Times.