As entries pour in for the 148th annual Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair, poster competition winner Morgan Lucero is readying her autograph hand.
Ms. Lucero’s winning entry for the highly competitive contest is of a team of strapping oxen attached to a cart in the foreground of the agricultural hall.
“I was very excited, it felt like I’d won the lottery,” said Ms. Lucero yesterday, “It’s the little things in life, you know.”
Ms. Lucero, who works as a graphic artist at the Gazette, will be signing copies of her posters at the fair which runs from August 20 through August 23.
It is the first and only contest Ms. Lucero has entered, and she always planned to win it. At 29, after several tries, she has.
“It’s the only one I’ve ever cared about,” she said.
Produced digitally using Adobe Illustrator, the poster is a mix of the old and new, said Ms. Lucero. She has several early fair posters hanging at her home in Edgartown and has always appreciated art deco style.
“I knew I wanted to reference that style in some capacity,” she said.
Ms. Lucero also needed a subject. She drew inspiration from her great uncle, farmer Leonard Athearn, who was heavily involved in the fair.
“He was involved in establishing oxen-pulling,” she said. (For the uninitiated, the event pits teams of oxen against each other to pull the heaviest weight. A prize for best team in the obstacle class is named in memory of Mr. Athearn.)
Early this year she dug up an old photograph of Mr. Athearn standing with a team of oxen outside the family home on Music street. Around the same time she discovered that 2009 is the year of the Ox on the Chinese calendar and she had her muse. She was contacted mid-April by fair organizer Eleanor Neubert with the good news.
Ms. Lucero has entered things in the fair since childhood — there was the family interest and the fact that the family home was just across from the old site of the agricultural fair, now the Grange Hall.
“It always seemed bigger to me than it actually is, and I heard old stories about the fair from my grandparents,” she said.
She said she may enter the competition again but feels she needs a rest first — embarrassingly enough she says, the contest occupies her mind a considerable amount.
“[If I’m entering,] it crosses my mind so many times during the year, I think it’ll be good to have a rest,” she said.
Simon Athearn of Morning Glory said the farm has entered every category possible this year, including eggplant, blueberries, beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggs, hay and squash. The fair entries for the farm are handled by his father Jim, who is vice-president of the fair.
They also plan to enter a grand display — last year the farm entered a Model A filled with fruit and vegetables.
Mr. Athearn said Morning Glory won’t be submitting any of the giant entries that dot the hall on fair days. A giant squash, he points out, is after all, really just an over-ripe squash.
“We have some baseball bats out there in the field but we wouldn’t enter those; it would be embarrassing,” he said.
When it comes to the fair, real estate broker Karen Overtoom and her family are a prodigious team.
“I have a collection of red, white and blue ribbons,” she said, adding: “My friends give me a hard time.”
Ms. Overtoom’s tomatoes, which she grows in her backyard, have won in the green, cherry and plum categories — she has also entered zucchinis, onions, beans and fennel. Her two daughters Michelle, 11 and Olivia, 14, enter drawings, sewing and pottery. Her husband Louis deGeofroy has won a blue ribbon for photography. The family lives a few blocks from the fair in West Tisbury and attends every day.
“It’s a busy time here this time of year. We love the fair,” she said.