As you drive up to the Fairgrounds, a familiar sight unfolds; parents trying to keep an eye on their kids as they get out of the car and eagerly run to the ticket line, barely able to contain their excitement. Even from the jam-packed parking lot, the smell of buttery sweet corn greets you.
This year marks the 161st annual Agricultural Fair organized by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society (MVAS). This hallmark event of the summer provides fun for people of all ages. Whether it’s playing carnival games, going on rides, seeing livestock, or the opportunity to win ribbons, it is a time for the agricultural community and the larger Martha’s Vineyard community to come together for four event-filled days, so it is no wonder that MVAS board members Garrison Vieira and Adam Moore have chosen to volunteer.
Garrison Vieira, a sergeant for the West Tisbury Police Department and vice president of MVAS, has been involved in the fair since 1994, back when the fair was still being held at the Grange Hall. Vieira first became involved in the fair at age 12, when he helped with parking and security. He has come a long way since then and is now a vice president of the Agricultural Society. In addition to his role with the Agricultural Society, he also volunteers at the fair with his family each summer.
In an interview with the Times, he shared that everyone in his family has an important job to do when it comes to volunteering. For the past 15 years, his wife Carol has been in charge of “Baby Central,” a spot where parents can take a moment to rest and feed or change their children. His daughters Alyssa and Nayelli and his stepson Micah also help with Baby Central, as well as general fair set up.
Along with volunteering, his children have an impressive ribbon collection. Vieira tells The Times that every summer his children submit their work in various art categories. It truly is an event for the whole Vieira family, including their goats which have won ribbons in the livestock competitions. Even in college, Vieira never missed a summer at the Agricultural fair. He says that his favorite part of the fair is the people he gets to work with and the camaraderie between the different volunteers. He also loves to see the excitement of the visitors who come to enjoy the fun.
Likewise for Adam Moore, the annual Ag fair is a family event. Along with being a board member of the MVAS, Moore is currently the president of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and author of the book “A Year on Martha’s Vineyard.” Moore shared with the Times that fairs have always been an important aspect in his life. Growing up in Durham, Conn., he loved attending the Durham fair, and when he had a family of his own, he wanted them to share the same love and appreciation for fairs that he has. He now lives on the Island with his wife, Melissa, and his four children. Moore’s son Huck tells the Times about how volunteering has really made him appreciate all that goes on behind the scenes. One year, he volunteered as a carny, wearing an inflatable tiger costume for eight hours. Looking back on this, he says that “although it was very fun to sort of be a part of the process, it gave me deeper insight into what goes into running these rides and events.” Huck’s favorite aspect of the fair is the food stand, Super Fried Chicken. “My older sister, who doesn’t eat meat, says that the hardest part of being a vegetarian is not being able to eat the chicken nuggets there.”
Adam says that he “grew up going to fairs and volunteering at fairs, so when we came to M.V., going to the fair came very naturally to me and my family.” And each family member has their own part to do. Moore helps with the ticket sales or with cleaning up after the fair, and his wife has been a judge in some of the competitions. Whether seeing the vegetables grown on local farms or in gardens, or watching sheep being sheared, he thinks that the fair is an important opportunity for people to learn about agriculture and the agricultural community here on the Vineyard.
Huck says that one of the things he appreciates most about the fair is the community aspect. “How every second you take, you see someone you know — whether it’s a teacher, a friend, or a coworker. And that’s something that only occurs at the fair… No other place where all of these people can come and congregate. And that’s what I like most about volunteering, because you’re a part of this community event that brings people together… And that is just an amazing feeling.”
If you are interested in volunteering for next year’s fair, visit marthasvineyardagriculturalsociety.org/volunteerorworkatthefair.