Get ready for the fair

159th M.V. Agricultural Fair dedicated to Emma Hall brings age-old traditions back to the Island.


The 159th Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair will be held from August 19 to 22, and folks are already gearing up for the many events, jobs, and fun opportunities that are being offered this year.

From grounds maintenance, trash pickup, and recycling to assistance in the office and helping with specific events, there is no shortage of volunteer and paid work positions available for folks looking to help out.

For anyone who wants to volunteer, there is a Sign Up Genius web page. They can choose one of the tabs for the job they want and see the shifts available: Volunteers must complete and submit the form by Friday, August 13.

The Ag Society is financially supported by the annual fair, members, business sponsors, and everyday donors who wish to support their mission.

Anyone looking to make a donation can visit the donations tab on the Ag Society website:

There are a ton of events to take part in, such as the dog show, the skillet toss, the tractor pull, and of course all of the art, livestock, and produce competitions that have been cherished elements of the fair for decades.

All entries for the fair must be submitted by Sunday, August 15, at 5 pm.

To start, folks will need to create a fair entry profile by visiting, or sign in from an existing account.

The next step will be to create an invoice or entry. Though it’s called an invoice in various parts of the program, there is no cost to enter items this year.

Folks will then choose the categories they wish to enter, and fill out information for each individual entry.

The last step is to submit the entry for approval. Contact Kristy Rose with any questions about entries or premiums.

There are also a number of paid and volunteer positions available that are integral to the success of the fair, and are often coveted (particularly among Island children and teens). All volunteers receive a one-day fair pass per each shift worked.

Adults and kids 10 and up (with an adult caregiver) can help set up the display hall for entries the week before the fair, and break down and clean up the week after the fair.

This work is physically demanding and involves moving, lifting, carrying, painting, cleaning, and anything else the hall manager needs.

Kids 8 and up can sign up to take entries that have been tagged and bring them to the correct spot in the exhibit hall and help with exhibit placement.

Paid data entry positions are also available for those 16 and up, where they will assist with data entry for fair exhibits during registration. Anyone involved with data entry will be trained to use the FairEntry registration system, and must be proficient in using computers.

Paid workers need to complete and submit the MVAS Worker Form and a W9 Form to the Ag Hall in person or email the completed form to by Friday, August 13.

One position that is great for all ages is helping string tags, and alphabetizing and organizing entry tags for various fair events, although kids will need to be accompanied by a responsible caregiver.

Adults can volunteer to support exhibitors with check-in and registration, and can manage and organize the animal barn, answer questions, and make sure the animals are comfortable in their stalls. Barn workers get a four-day pass to the fair.

Folks 16 or older can sell fair merchandise at the newly expanded booth, and will receive $12 per hour. Knowledge of iPads is useful as the fair uses the Square system, however, they will train folks if need be, and there are other roles in this area.

Kids ages 10 and up can manage the entrances to the fair and hall, ensure that fairgoers have tickets at entry, and stamp hands at the exit. This position pays $6 an hour and workers also get free entry to the fair the day(s) they work.

Those age 16 and up are also needed to monitor the entrance/exit gates, and are paid $12 an hour. They can also sell tickets at the front gates, and scan tickets that are bought online.

A mandatory training session will be held on Wednesday, August 18, at 5 pm at the Ag Hall.

For kids who like to be active and don’t mind getting dirty for a few hours, there are positions open for trash and recycling disposal that pay $6 per hour. Kids can help dispose of trash and keep the grounds clean for fairgoers, or help them sort trash, recycling, and food waste and compostables at centralized waste stations. Paid and volunteer positions are available for recycling. Visit for all volunteer and paid work opportunities.

One exciting addition to the fair is the barn photo contest, where folks take a picture with their animals illustrating the connection between humans and farm animals and digitally submit it to the fair. There will be three winners in each category that will receive first-, second-, and third-place ribbons. Winners’ photos will be hung in the barn for the duration of the fair with their ribbons. Pictures and ribbons can be picked up at the same time as hall entries on Monday after the fair.

This competition is open to all ages, but the animals must reside on Martha’s Vineyard. Deadline for entry is August 13.

One big change to the fair this year, according to the manager of Cushing Amusements, Peter Cushing, is that there will no longer be a chance for folks to pay a flat rate to ride all the rides they want during one fair day.

Prior to the pandemic, Cushing said his company invested over $1 million in new or repaired equipment, and after 20 months of not putting that equipment to work due to the nationwide shutdown, they can’t afford to provide the bracelet discount.

“We only have a six-month window to make a year’s worth of money, and this year it was cut to three months. This is a recovery and survival year, so our expenses are up anywhere from 20 to 40 percent across the board,” Cushing said.

Cushing said there will be a new ride at the fair this year, called the cliffhanger — where riders lay on their chest and are spun around in the air in a kind of hang gliding motion.



  1. What covid precautions are in place? This is an important question because children under 12 are not vaccinated and covid cases on-island and elsewhere are climbing. I see in several Times articles covering Obama’s birthday party, covid protocols were fully detailed and reported, including required testing and the presence of a covid coordinator. Can you please report this information regarding the fair since it’s more pertinent to those taking their unvaccinated kids and grandkids? Limits to crowd size? Masks required in the front exhibition hall and barns? Thank you.

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