A peachy-keen kind of day

The first official West Tisbury Day brings crowds and smiles.

Brian Ditchfield as the Ringmaster (in red) leads children in Cinema Circus activity at the Grange Hall. — Photo by Maria Thibodeau

Anyone who traveled through historic West Tisbury last Saturday, August 15, may have witnessed a few things that set the day apart from the usual sleepy Saturday at the library, sculpture garden, or church: The air smelled of peaches. A harmony of voices drifted out of the library’s doors. An elephant named Ellie stomped across the grounds at the Grange Hall.

These unusual sights were all part of the first official West Tisbury Day, a celebration of the town and community through the coincidentally simultaneous Peach Festival at the First Congregational Church, Frozen Yogurt Social at the West Tisbury library, and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s (TMVFF) Cinema Circus event at the Grange Hall. Cinema Circus director Alexandra London-Thompson told the Times that she came up with the idea to tie all the events together just one week before: “I was feeling bad that our events would all be competing, but then I thought, ‘Wait a moment, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing at all. We can actually make this very positive.’”

The neighboring festivities began at 9 am on Saturday with the weekly Farmers Market, a summer tradition in West Tisbury. Vendors set up their stalls at the Grange Hall and sold local produce and crafts from around the Island, including the always popular Chilmark Coffee, Grey Barn cheeses, and a selection of baked goods.

As the market wound down at noon, the First Congregational Church opened its doors for the sixth annual Peach Festival. The festival always falls on the second Saturday of August, when Massachusetts peaches are at their peak. Many families sat around picnic tables, or sprawled out on the lawn of the church, and enjoyed homemade peach products in the form of parfaits, smoothies, ice cream, and shortcake.

Island resident Dionis Montrowl, who manages the Peach Festival’s operations, remarked that this year was especially busy. “During the first 30 minutes we had 350 people come in, which is certainly a record for the first 30 minutes of any of our events,” said Ms. Montrowl. She added that the only complaints she’d heard were about the increase in traffic on the way in and out of the district.

A few doors down from the church, the Cinema Circus event took place at the Grange Hall from 3 to 7 pm. As part of TMVFF’s programming, the popular family festivity invited children and their parents to learn about filmmaking and acting, all with a circus-themed twist. Outside the hall, the Ringmaster, Rory the Lion (played by TMVFF founders Brian Ditchfield and Thomas Bena, respectively), and Ellie the Elephant entertained little ones around the Big Top Tent, and IMP for Kids held improv workshops at the playground. Indoor activities included character studies with costumes from the Clown Corner, balloon art, and face painting.

Across the street at the West Tisbury library, the a capella group Vineyard Sound performed a show at 4 pm followed by complimentary frozen yogurt from Tisberry. According to the library, the Frozen Yogurt Social, or FroYoSo for short, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Beagary Trust.

The action-packed day came to a close with a screening of international short films for kids upstairs at the Grange Hall as the sun went down behind the trees outside.

Ms. London-Thompson told The Times that, despite the short amount of time the participants had to prepare, the first official West Tisbury Day was a success. “West Tisbury is one of my favorite spots on this Island. There is such a nice group of people who run the businesses in the area, and it’s so beautiful. It deserves to be appreciated,” she said.

So will there be another one next year? We’ll just have to wait and see.