Fall Happenings

Summer lingers into early fall, as warm waters and myriad social events persist. Only slowly do the cooler breezes and weaker autumnal rays begin to slow the virile summer heartbeat to balance the changing seasons and pace. It’s a good time to take a breath and tune in to the land and the community that underlie the whirlwind of glorious summer. The events below offer samplings of Vineyard products, vistas, and cultures.

YardWorks gives the stage to staff and interns.

1. Organic dance. After a summer hosting scores of visiting dancers from far and wide, The Yard celebrates Labor Day weekend by giving the Chilmark stage to its own with YardWorks, a production choreographed and performed by staff and interns, accompanied by the Island improvisational dance group What’s Written Within. Dancers of all ages weave choreographed pieces together with structured improv, and solo pieces yield to group dynamics and then back again in this culmination of summer work. Performances are August 31 and September 1 at 8 p.m. and a free matinee is Saturday at 3 p.m. (donations welcome). Tickets are $25 for adults, and $15 for students and seniors at, at 508-645-9662, or at the door. Add an arabesque to your Labor Day weekend.

2. Celebrate the harvest. The community comes together to embrace the Island traditions of agriculture, environmental consciousness, and good food with the Living Local Harvest Fest on September 28 and 29 (rain date September 30) at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. The festival opens with an evening of storytelling about the Island’s longstanding agricultural traditions, Friday from 6:30 to 9 p.m., moderated by Susan Klein. Come by on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for samplings from Island farms and vendors, along with information about renewable energy and land conservation, and demos on effective composting and finding wild edibles. There are pony rides, a haystack maze, and activities presented by some of the Island’s nature-based camps for kids. A pig roast with live music from the Flying Elbows starts at 6 p.m. and goes until those dancing feet can’t dance no more. Events are free, except for the pig roast, where entry is a nominal fee. Harvest community harmony this fall.

living local harvest fest girl

The Living Local Harvest Fest appeals to all ages.

3. Historical exploration. As part of Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day, celebrated nationally September 29, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum opens its doors in Edgartown for a free day. Check out the new interactive children’s gallery, which presents topics such as Wampanoag tradition, maritime history, agriculture, and folk art. Examine old-fashioned props and costumes in the exhibit 100 Years of Theatre on Martha’s Vineyard. The museum is always coming up with fresh ways to preserve and present the Island’s heritage. Print a free pass at Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; for more information visit Think of it as a free ticket into a time machine.

4. Columbus Day weekend finds. Featherstone Center for the Arts sweetens the season with the annual Chocolate Festival, October 5 through 7 on its Oak Bluffs campus. The festival includes decadent chocolate samplings from a host of restaurants and chocolatiers local and international; activities for kids; and thematic art. There is a sweet-sixteen party to mark the center’s sixteenth year Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. (patron tickets are $50), and the main festival runs noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; entry is free and tastings are two for $5 and five for $10. For melodies to sweeten the ear and enliven the night, check out Niall and Cillian Vallely performing an evening of Irish music at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven on Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 online at, and $20 at the door. Between these two events, you can be tapping your feet to a sugar-and-uilleann-pipe-fueled beat.

cylce mv bikers

Cycle MV bikers get a whirlwind Island tour.

5. Pedal pump. Touring the Island by bike switches into high gear for Cycle Martha’s Vineyard, a recreational ride around the Island with 100- and 50-kilometer routes on October 14. The cardio-intensive circumnavigation takes the 100k-ers from the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs to the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah, along the south shore of the Island to Katama, and then back to Oak Bluffs via Beach Road, where cyclists ride side-by-side with Nantucket Sound. The 50k route stays down-Island and includes West Chop. Island seascapes and rest stops refresh body and soul en route, and a pig roast follows the race at the PA Club. Online registration at is $100 ($80 for previous participants) and benefits Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and other Rotary Club charities. A rewarding physical challenge and an efficient way of seeing some of the best Vineyard sights in one day – it’s a win-win.