From Gazette editions of August, 1986:
It is so special this time, there will be color postcards, a Vineyard Clydesdale, the calzones, the Mexican egg rolls, and one more thing — there will be the head of the state Department of Agriculture, full of ideas, honors and praise for the Vineyard farmers.
This year — the 125th — promises to bestow special honors in recognition of the Agricultural Society, The theme of this year’s fair is the family farm. Vineyard farmers large and small will qualify for the annual prizes and money for their fruits, vegetables, livestock, eggs, poultry, rabbits and flowers.
August Schumacher, state Commissioner of Agriculture, will speak publicly in praise of president Elisha Smith and the society for its completion of the Martha’s Vineyard Farm Trails map, a listing and guide to 43 farms on the Island. The commissioner, who has praised the map as the best in the country, is expected to embark on a three-hour tour, using it as a guide. He will also give a talk on the diversity of agriculture on the Vineyard, which he considers a model for the future of agriculture throughout the state. Integrated pest management, farmland preservation, and the promotion of direct marketing through roadside stands and farmers markets are some of the topics of his speech.
Bill Honey from Brookside Farm will bring his Clydesdale horse as part of the draft horse and oxen demonstration. The Vineyard Haven Band will play, followed by the U and I Band led by Jim Kweskin. New to the booths will be David Stanwood of West Tisbury, who will demonstrate the sheep-shearing process from start to finish.
The opening of the 125th Agricultural Society Fair found the best-of-show cattle basking under the unclouded sun and the approving gaze of the livestock judge Marcel Rondeau. Paying little mind to the whir and drone and swinging and swirling of the nearby carnival rides or to the screaming of the riders, Mim Douglas of Rainbow Farm stood proudly by her Charolais heifer Heiress and Harold Lawry of Meadow View Farm held fast to his Brown Swiss heifer Clover.
Before bestowing best-of-show blue on Heiress and the reserve champion prize on Clover, Mr. Rondeau declared himself pleased by the progress Island livestock farmers have made since he last assessed Island beef and dairy cattle in the show ring. “The tremendous strides that I’ve seen today really make it all worthwhile,” said Mr. Rondeau. The quality has really, really risen.”
“A few years ago the Charolais had double muscling and breeding problems. No longer. Particularly at Bob Douglas’s Rainbow Farm in West Tisbury, for which Mim Douglas has tended and shown livestock for ten years.” Of a Rainbow bull, Mr. Rondeau said: “This is a tremendous prospect, ladies and gentlemen. He carries himself very, very well; see it in his rippling muscles.
Some of the cows and heifers back in the barn could have told you that, and many did, mooing and lowing with particular intensity as the bull strutted into and around the show ring.
Earlier Bill Honey had led a Brookside Guernsey to the ring, just behind Jenni Oliver and her Meadow View Guernsey, for the dairy cow judging. “Yay,” Fred Fisher called to the Meadow View milker, “There goes Day Lily. Hurray!” Day Lily received a blue ribbon in her category. Mr. Rondeau said, “...this cow is very, very feminine. And she’s got a tremendous amount of capacity.”
By this time state agriculture commissioner August Schumacher returned from a morning tour of Island farms, to be greeted by Elisha Smith, president of the agricultural society; Rosemary Donnelly, who is secretary; Bill Wilcox, agricultural agent for the Dukes County Extension Service; Michael Zoll, director of the extension service; and Martha Tucker of Pond View Farm.
“Lead on, Elisha — This is great,” he said. “Fair attendance is going way up in Massachusetts.”
He also congratulated Bill Honey on his oxen. “Brookside is nonprofit — not intentionally,” Mr. Honey observed. “It’s a fun farm.” “Funny farm, you said?” asked Mr. Schumacher. “Fun farm,” Mr. Honey repeated firmly.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner