Ag Hall hits scheduling snag

A wedding has been scheduled the same weekend as a popular Vineyard Artisans Festival. - Rich Saltzberg

The Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury, a highly coveted venue with limited availability, has an unintended double booking for Labor Day weekend. Both a wedding and the Vineyard Artisans Festival are slated to be on the premises that weekend.

“We’re working together to make it work,” festival founder Andrea Rogers told The Times.

While they stressed nothing is set in stone, Rogers and Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society executive director Christina West each said the idea of a large tent being erected somewhere on the fairgrounds is being explored.

“The hall is booked on a first-come, first-served basis,” West wrote in an email. “Of course we try to save specific dates for returning events, but in some cases, due to extenuating circumstances, that does not always happen. In this case the hall was booked for a private event well before the Artisans formally requested reservation of that date.”

“It’s not like we have the right to be there,” Rogers said. “They let us be there.” She emphasized she and the Ag Society have had an excellent working relationship for the past 24 years.

“We have been working closely with Andrea to enable the Artisans to hold their Labor Day festival,” West wrote. “We are hoping we can reach an agreeable arrangement so that they will be able to have this festival on the Society grounds this year. Events that happen at the hall need to be approved every year. Not just by the board of trustees, but by the town of West Tisbury and Vineyard Conservation Society, the holder of our APR [agricultural preservation restriction]. Currently the Society is allowed three incidental events per year. The continuation of these incidental events, as well as the type of events that qualify for them, is not guaranteed, and is coming under increased scrutiny from the town. Historically, the society has allowed two of our three incidental events to go to the Artisans’ Labor Day and Thanksgiving festivals. This year the town determined that we were seeking four incidental events, and we were required to reduce that number. In order to enable the Artisans to have both festivals this year, the trustees made the decision to forgo the drive-in, a popular event that directly supported our 4H program. The trustees will be revisiting these decisions again this winter, amongst themselves as well as with the town and VCS.”

Citing privacy rules, West declined to name the couple to be wed, though an online posting on the Knot indicates it is Kristen Holdsworth and Shail Patel. They could not be immediately reached for comment.

Rogers said that any artisans who may feel miffed by the situation should be patient. “Wait and see, and you’ll see how nice it will be,” she said.