Relishing the Dog Days

August is prime time on the Vineyard, with fireworks, the Ag Fair, celebrities in the grocery store, and more beach days and barbecues than seem to fit into a week. Amidst this summer blitz, there are also opportunities to support worthy causes while having a blast. We offer up some Island diversions that are off the beaten track, and share details for events that will make for memorable nights out.


Tending animals at the Farm Institute.
Ivy Ash

1. Fun and food for a good cause. The Vineyard House Water Tasting by the Sea annual fundraiser on Thursday, August 8, benefits drug and alcohol abuse recovery. Enjoy the Beetlebung Steel Band, hors d’oeuvres, a raw bar, and silent auction on a meadow overlooking Oyster Pond at the Friedman estate in Edgartown. Event starts at 5:30 p.m. Ticket ($100) at www.vineyard Summer Soul, a fundraiser benefiting women’s health, takes place on Monday, August 12. The event includes brunch, cooking demos, and a health care panel at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The day will include free yoga and cardio classes at Inkwell Beach earlier in the morning and an artisans fair at Union Chapel following brunch. Brunch tickets ($100) at That night, the Hospice Summer Soiree combines dinner, music, and two auctions (one silent, one live) at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, at 5:30 p.m. Tickets ($125) at Giving back is delicious!

2. Music legends abound this month. Maceo Parker, whose sax wailed with James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic in their heydays, will pump out a night of funk with a full band and orchestra at Flatbread Company in Edgartown on Friday, August 2, at 10 p.m. Tickets ($47 at door, $42 in advance) are available through or at Flatbread, Aboveground Records, Green Room, Corner 5, and Alley’s General Store. The four-day On the Vine fundraiser at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs benefits kidney disease research, with Smokey Robinson and Grammy nominee Angie Stone on Thursday, August 22; Natalie Cole headlines a gala evening of performances and a silent auction, hosted by Richard Lewis (of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame) on Saturday, August 24. Tickets are $125 to $1,000; details at American music history is alive and kicking!

3. Kid Stuff. There’s nothing like being a kid on Martha’s Vineyard! There’s fun everywhere – from catching frogs in the rain and pulling mussels off the jetty in Menemsha to watching the biplanes take off from the Katama Airfield. Some family favorites: Gus Ben David’s World of Reptiles and Birds Park in Edgartown (; the FARM Institute in Edgartown (; Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown (; and Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs (

4. The Oak Bluffs Arts District, tucked away on Dukes County Avenue, is a treasure trove of galleries, stores, and artists’ studios. Together they’ll host the Arts District Stroll on Saturday, August 10, from 4–7 p.m. Enjoy a festive, art-charged collection of fashion, flowers, jewelry, and fine art. This artsy enclave is well worth the detour.

5. Support Local Farmers. Think outside the grocery store and make your dinner a map of the Island: Pick up kale and ogle the draft horses at Nip n’ Tuck on State Road in West Tisbury, cruise over for some fingerling potatoes at Green Island Farm across from West Tisbury’s Ag Hall, and set your course to Chilmark for North Tabor Farm greens and mushrooms. Beetlebung Farm tomatoes and Mermaid Farm dairy are on your way home if you take Middle Road, and Blackwater Farm’s meats warrant a Lambert’s Cove detour. Chappaquiddick’s Slip Away Farm is on the main road near the community center. Take the scenic route straight to the source of your meal.