The 159th annual Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural fair was stripped down and virtual due to the pandemic. Despite the absence of rides, cotton candy, and other trappings, the fair was a hit with kids, many of whom competed in hall and barn exhibits, and came home with virtual ribbons. A champion among those kids this year was 10-year-old Reed Cabot from West Tisbury, who took home seven blue ribbons and four red ribbons. In the age-10-and-under category, Cabot won four junior flower categories, including best sugar bowl arrangement and tallest sunflower. In junior livestock, Cabot won best rabbit and best purebred dairy cow.
Asked what the secret of her daughter’s success was, Nicole Cabot pointed out how much Reed loves animals. “I think she just adores her animals and nature,” she said. “With the pandemic, there was much more time to dedicate to those interests, and it paid off.”
Asked how she got a sunflower to grow so tall, Reed said natural fertilizer. “I think it might still be growing,” she said.
Reed cares for two young oxen at Brookside Farm on Middle Road in Chilmark. Their names are Spot and Sparkle. Spot took home a blue ribbon, Sparkle a red ribbon.
Chip, her lop-eared rabbit, won a blue ribbon too. Chip had a birthday party on August 11. “I made him some special bunny cakes, and I made him a fruit pizza with watermelon and berries,” she said. A friend and her bunny came to Chip’s party for a playdate too.
Reed is entering the fifth grade at the Chilmark School. She credits her grandmother with teaching her how to arrange flowers. Reed showed her versatility with flowers, not only winning with arrangements in traditional containers, but also with a bouquet in a ceramic boot.
Reed’s hen, Peggy-Leggy, won best purebred leghorn hen. Peggy-Leggy, a single-comb brown leghorn, is no relation to Foghorn Leghorn, her mom noted.
14-year-old Sydney Emerson, who took home a more modest two blue ribbons, was no less enthused. In fact, she said she was surprised she won the junior needlework category in the age-10-to-14 category. Emerson, who is poised to enter ninth grade, embroidered flowers on a bucket hat. “Now there’s an argument in the family of who gets to wear it — everyone thinks it’s great — it’s shared,” she said.
She also took home a blue ribbon for a seashell mosaic.
Sydney said the hall exhibits are “always fun,” and while she misses the in-person experience, she was gratefully a digital exhibition was held. “I’m very happy they were able to make it happen this year,” she said.
“I think the Virtual Fair Hall and Barn went really well,” volunteer and virtual fair co-creator Kristy Rose emailed. “We had a lot of creative participation in the fair as a whole, which is what made it so great — people being able to share their skills and projects, even if we can’t do it all together in the same space.”