Ministers to the Moth, Campground comes to life with events all summer long

The annual All Island Art Show around the Tabernacle in the Oak Bluffs Campgrounds brings out both artists and art lovers. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

For those who make infrequent visits to the Oak Bluffs Campgrounds, there’s a lot more going on during the summer months than Illumination Night. Every week during July and August the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association sponsors up to a dozen different events centered in or around the Tabernacle. The various activities, talks, musical programming and more are scheduled to cover many bases.

 There’s a weekly Thursday speaker series, featuring experts covering a wide range of subjects. On Thursday, July 27, interfaith minister Reverend Susan Waldrop will share her thoughts on the MVCMA’s expanded religious mission. This year the Camp Meeting Association made the decision to adopt an interfaith approach to the services at the Tabernacle.

Popular speaker Father Augustine Bangalie will be returning to the Tabernacle on Monday, July 24, for a talk titled “Developing Communities in Sierra Leone and their Struggle for Education.” Father Bangalie, who spends a good deal of time in developing countries in Africa, is a powerful and passionate speaker whose message of compassion is always well received in his annual visits to the Campground.

Music is always a big part of the MVCMA season. Every Friday the Tabernacle hosts a Summer Concert series featuring local musicians. This Friday, July 21, the Roundabouts will perform.

On Saturday, July 29, perennial favorites the Vineyard Sound will be celebrating their 25th year with a reunion concert featuring 70 past and present members. Tickets for this popular annual event are $20.

There are always loads of events for kids in the Campground all summer long, and like all of the MVCMA programming, activities and events are open to all. With only a few exceptions, a free will offering is all that is requested.

This year, in place of family film screenings, the association is opting for more participatory options like games, crafts, and ice cream socials. “We decided to move away from technology and take a more hands-on approach,” says Jan deLisle, program chair for the MVCMA board of directors. “As a retired teacher, I believe in the value of interactive pursuits.” The annual Children’s Festival on Saturday, July 29, from 10:30 am to noon will feature games, crafts, entertainment, goodies, and more.

From July 31 through August 4, the MVCMA will present a new offering with “History Week,” featuring, among other things, a Victorian tea party and a stereoscope presentation.

During the beginning of August, Vineyard artists and artisans will have the chance to show their work at the annual Craft Fair on Saturday, August 5, and All Island Art Show on Monday, August 7. Kids too get their chance to shine at the All Island Kids’ Art Show held Tuesday, August 8. Those interested in participating should check the MVCMA website for details.

Weekly events include yoga on the lawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 to 9:15 am, the popular Community Sing every Wednesday evening at 8, and Campground walking tours every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am. Visitors can also schedule walking tours for other dates and times. For those who want a more in-depth look at the Campground, the Gingerbread Cottage Tour on Wednesday, August 9, offers a great opportunity to step inside several of the famed cottages for an informal tour.

An event that always draws a huge crowd, the Moth Main stage Event, will take place on Saturday, August 5. Unlike other indoor venues that host the nationwide NPR storytelling series, the Moth at the Tabernacle events sometimes attract a few actual moths.

The 19th-century Trinity Park Tabernacle is a magnificent historical structure worth a visit anytime you’re in Oak Bluffs. Events held there benefit from both the al fresco experience as well as the sense of tradition, harkening back to the days when the community gathered under the cast-iron frame for worship and fellowship. Don’t wait until Illumination Night to take advantage of all that the Campgrounds has to offer.