Ag Society gleans a Model T and a big donor 

Joe Sollitto, the former clerk of courts, has donated this Model T for the Ag Society to auction off. - Rich Saltzberg

In its bid to revive pandemic-battered finances and preserve the 160th annual agricultural fair, Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society has received some notable contributions. Former Dukes County Superior Court Clerk-Magistrate Joe Sollitto and his wife Kathy donated a 1926 Ford Model T to the society’s community auction, a lot valued at between $9,300 and $22,300, based on appraisals. That gift was followed by an anonymous donor who has committed to matching up to $100,000 of auction or monetary donations made to the society. 

Ag Society president Brian Athearn said he was floored by the “selfless” and “overwhelming” outpouring of support the community has shown the Ag Society.

He described the $100,000 anonymous donation as “an incredibly generous gesture,” and went on to say the society is “really grateful” there are people out there who care this much about sustaining the Vineyard’s agricultural community. He said the six-figure donation could very well make the difference as to whether there are agricultural programs and a fair next year. He encouraged folks who want to support the society to patronize the auction so the gift can be maximized.

“If someone wants to donate to the society, now’s the time to do it,” executive director Kristina West said, “because every dollar will be doubled.” 

Another item donated to the auction is a Travis Tuck rooster weathervane. Tony Holand, former sculpturing partner of the late craftsman through Tuck and Holand, donated the weathervane.

“That’s a pretty rare one,” Athearn said.

“It’s only ever been used as an indoor sculpture,” West said. “It has never been outside.”

Sollitto, a life member of the Ag Society who estimated he has judged baked goods at the fair since 1975, said he’s had the Model T for 32 years, and hoped it would find a good home. He described the Ford as in “running condition,” despite it being 94 years old. 

“It should be used, and it should be seen,” he said. 

Registration for the Ag Society auction opened on August 12.