What’s new at the Fair

Check out bicycle tricks, a new daredevil ride, a raw bar, and chill out with a Yommi.

Craig Wright jumps over a volunteer during his Bike Stunt Show. Courtesy Craig Wright.

With its catchy theme, “See ‘Ewe’ at the Fair,” and poster featuring a smiling sheep, this 156th annual Agricultural Fair is packed with attractions to delight all ages. There are countless crowd favorites that endure from year to year and just can’t be missed. That special something may be the Draft Horse Pull, a spin on the Ferris wheel, a firemen’s burger, cotton candy, or a stroll through the exhibit hall, but all agree it just wouldn’t be the fair without it. But every year this array of well-loved standards is accented with a few newcomers, adding even more excitement and interest for fairgoers.

A breathtaking trick bicycle performance aptly titled CW Trials Bike Stunt Show tops the list of exciting newcomers this year. Our advice: Do not try this at home! The show features bold riders demonstrating their nerve and agility as they balance and jump their bikes, even taking leaps over volunteers. Stunts get going several times each day in the Show Ring throughout Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Family-friendly performers talk with audience members and happily sign autographs too.

Adventure-minded fairgoers on the lookout for the next scary ride will happily welcome the Music Fest, a spinning sensation on the Cushing Carnival midway here for the first time. Carrying some three dozen riders on a wild ride to the sounds of upbeat tunes, the attraction is geared toward teens and other brave daredevils.

“I can guarantee you it will have a long line to get on it,” promised carnival owner Larry Cushing.

For something a little more serene, head to the Fiber Tent to pat a friendly, furry alpaca, watch a demo, then try your hand at spinning, knitting, and other handcrafts. There are plenty of fun and educational offerings for both adults and youngsters. New this year, fiber maven Anna Marie D’Addarie will display four different looms, showing a variety of weaving techniques. She will be doing rug hooking too.

While the carny is the place for thrills, chills, games of chance, and irresistible once-a-year treats like cotton candy and fried dough, the local midway nearby offers a more low-key vibe for dining, shopping, socializing, and taking in a variety of homespun entertainment.

Although some well-liked vendors won’t make it to the fair this year, several midway first-timers will add a new look.

They’re icy, they’re pretty, they’re delicious, and best of all, they are even good for you! Yommi Healthy Frozen Treats popsicles by Adrian Johnson and Nicole Corbo will chill you with Blueberry Cheesecake, Mexican Chocolate, Strawberry Basil Cream, Mocha Monkey, and Golden Goodness, sparked with turmeric. Most are gluten and dairy-free, all irresistible on sultry fair days.

It’s been too long since any new fresh fish swam into the fairgrounds (except of course for Bill Smith’s delectable lobster rolls and quahog chowder), so hungry visitors will rejoice this year to find the Larsen’s crew shucking shellfish for a traditional raw bar. Get in line early, and please pass the cocktail sauce.

Local booths offer great browsing. Pick up a special gift, or treat yourself to celebrate the fair in style. Added to the colorful shopping mix this year will be fashions for women and children from the popular LuLaRoe line.

Emily Burrows will show her trendsetting Vaalbara handbags in exotic fabrics with creative detailing, along with jewelry, vintage flannels, and more, all handmade in her California studio. Feeling artsy? Visit Anne-Marie Eddy, who will display her resin art and other paintings.

Marsha Winsryg’s familiar display of unique handcrafts benefiting African artists was newly christened World Market Mondays this summer, and expanded to include offerings from several similar charities. View captivating artwork, jewelry, quilts, sculpture, textiles, wearables, household items, and gifts of every description, all being sold to help struggling families in distant lands.

Kati Johnson has changed her business name from Mollygoggles to Chaska Hill, an elegant title for her stylish scarves, wraps, and accessories. The products here represent Ms. Johnson’s initiative to support and empower the Peruvian women who make them.

Front and center on the local midway, the Main Stage will be jumping from morning to night with a wide variety of entertainment and music for all ages. From the much-loved and sweetly zany Pet Show on Thursday to puppets, dancers, an ITW cabaret, and all styles of music, there is truly something for every taste. Feasting on fair food at a picnic table with family or friends while listening to local musicians makes for an unbeatable experience.

Rob Myers and his talented Maniacs of the Heart will be on stage Friday at 11 am with their popular “Kids’ Rock ’n’ Roll” show, a spirited mix of folk, pop, and nursery rhymes played in a whole new style that all ages will enjoy.

Back from New York City, Chilmark’s own creative Annie Cook will appear with her band, the Devolvers, for a dinner performance at 6:30 pm Thursday described by one fair staffer as “jazzy, ’60s, retro, fun!”

Mrs. Biskis (a.k.a. Ellen) takes the stage Saturday night at 7:30 pm, filling in for Johnny Hoy who was not available.

Whether racing in the doors hoping to see a blue ribbon on your dahlias, muffins, or photograph, or just having a leisurely stroll through to admire the talents of Vineyard neighbors, a visit to the exhibition hall is a traditional fairtime high point.

Hall manager Kathy Lobb reports that new categories will give youngsters more opportunity than ever to show their exuberant creativity. A new Print Making category welcomes entries from all juniors up to age 19. A sweet new Junior Flowers contest encourages young entrants to design an arrangement based on their favorite bedtime story.

Handcrafted rug aficionados will be gratified to find the Hooked Rug category has been split into primitive and traditional techniques.

Out in back, the fairgrounds are jumping all weekend with animal shows, judging, and competitions. The Draft Horse Pull, Woodsmen’s Contest, and Dog Show have their dedicated fans, as do newer colorful entries like the antique tractor pull and the pedal tractor pull for youngsters.

This year’s Women’s Skillet Toss, a Sunday-afternoon ”must-see,” offers a special prize for the eldest competitor, newly established by the family of the late Judy Jahries to lovingly honor her exuberant participation in this contest and many other aspects of the fair over many years.

Visit The MV Times at its first-ever Ag Fair booth. Meet Times staffers, hear about plans and publications, pose with photo props, including a giant newspaper or fair scene. Share your fondest fair memories for a free sticker using #sharethefair #perfectdaysmv.