Oak Bluffs: African American Cultural Festival


July’s sun and lack of rain is beginning to give our town a wilting appearance. After so many weeks in May and June of monsoon weather, you would think the earth would have stored up sufficient water for the entire summer, but alas, it was not to be. It seems as if there is a gigantic umbrella deflecting the predicted rainstorms away from us. Once again those storms are predicted for Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We shall see. In the meantime, keep vigilant in watering gardens, trees, and lawns when needed, remembering only every day on odd or even dates that match your house number.

For the first time in ages, the parade that hails the beginning of the Portuguese Feast celebration was canceled because of dire weather predictions. But the celebrations at the P.A. Club went on, well attended by residents and nonresidents alike. Right now the P.A. Club needs support, both financial and membership, as expenses are continually mounting, and they want to carry on the supporting activities they are so well known for. We often take for granted the helping hands they offer to so many in need throughout the entire Island. Please consider donating to this benevolent organization and perhaps becoming a member.

The Cottagers African American Cultural Festival will be held on July 27 and 28 at Cottagers Corner and adjacent Hartford Park. It is a free, educational, and fun activity featuring events and things for all age groups. You may learn to step, mini talks, a commemoration of the James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighter of WWI, view the collection of black dolls; there will be vendors selling jewelry, crafts, and clothing. This event is free and open to the public. Featured at the festival on July 27 from 11 to 12 pm will be a book signing by Dr. Walter Collier, author of “Why Racism Persists,” and on July 27 from 2 to 3, there will be a book launch of “Committed to Memory” by seasonal resident Dr. Cheryl Finley. Light refreshments will be served.

On Saturday, August 4, at 8 pm at the Tabernacle, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, in collaboration with the Cottagers and the Camp Meeting Association, is welcoming filmmaker, producer, and director Salem Mekuria to present “Our Place in the Sun,” a retrospective documentary on the Island’s African American community. In honor of its 30th anniversary, a panel discussion will follow, which will highlight how the Vineyard’s black community first evolved and has changed over the past three decades. Following the screening, Skip Finley will moderate a discussion with filmmaker Mekuria, joined by Lee Van Allen, Gretchen Tucker Underwood, and Jocelyn Walton. Admission is $15 for museum members and $20 for nonmembers. Advance tickets are available at mvmuseum.org/sun.php.

Congratulation to Cathy and Mark Peters, as they recently took first place in an international hot sauce competition in California. Out of 100 entries from around the world, their “Hachachacha” sauce took first, and their “Hacha” won second place. Mark works very hard with their gardens, and Kathy creates the recipes. Good news for this hard-working couple.

Harvey (Hal) Garneau returns to the Tabernacle on Tuesday evening, July 31, at 8 pm with an all-new 3D slideshow presentation titled “The Campground through the Stereoscope.” His lively commentary for the more than 130 historic stereoscopic images of the Campground will make for a fun evening. It is free with a free-will offering, and everyone will get 3D glasses to wear.

Can you believe that in a little over five weeks, the Democratic primary elections will take place? T. George Davis has announced his candidacy for clerk of courts for Dukes County. Not only is George asking for your vote, but he wants to make sure everyone is aware of the Democratic primary election on Sept. 4, as this is the earliest primary election on record. Charles Morano is also a candidate for this position, so you have two good candidates to choose from.

Not just books, movies, and games can be found at our Oak Bluffs library, but continuous interesting programs for all ages can be found there as well. The STEAM for Teens continues every Thursday throughout the summer. The YA Lounge transforms into a maker space, offering different projects related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and the programs run until August 30.

The Martha’s Vineyard Author Series on July 29 at the Chilmark Community Center will feature Nafissa Thompson Spire. Nafissa will discuss her acclaimed short story collection, “Heads of the Colored People.” She will be interviewed by her publisher, Dawn Davis, who lives in New York City and spends her summers here on the Island. Dawn has launched a virtual book club, “Inkwell,” to empower and support black authors. This event begins at 7:30 pm, but join in for drinks beforehand at 7 pm.

We send birthday smiles to Travis Bernard, Rachel Barrett, and Denise Alwardt on July 29, Heather White, Ashley Medeiros, and Luke DePriest on the 30th, Bernie Crossland on the 31st, and Sophia McGroarty Sampaio and Garrett Brown on August 1.

Enjoy your week. Peace.