As the season slips from summer into autumn, the frantic pace of life on Nantucket is settling into the community routine that residents know and long for during July and August. This year, two popular local events that add old-fashioned island fun to our fall are being combined into a single two-day celebration of community.
The all-volunteer Nantucket Island Fair and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s (NCF’s) Cranberry Festival are merging to become the Nantucket Harvest Fair. Planned for October 1 and 2 from 10 am to 4 pm, this event promises to include fun elements of both.
When the costs to put on the Island Fair far surpassed the revenue brought in each year, organizers realized the situation was unsustainable. This financial challenge, coupled with a lack of new volunteers, led fair organizer Abby Slosek to reach out to NCF President and CEO Cormack Collier: “I talked to him about the issues and suggested a collaboration…he seemed excited about it, and then he spoke to his staff and his board.” They all agreed that this collaboration makes sense for both organizations: financially and logistically. And this new Nantucket Harvest Fair will be a great draw for residents and visitors.
Plans for events, activities, contests, displays, and demonstrations are still being finalized, but Abby Slosek and Allison Levy of NCF tell us that fairgoers can expect live music, hayrides, Gertrude’s Farmstand, local artisans, family games, local animals, and plenty of food to buy for lunch. The traditional baking contest and the NiSHA Dog Show will be back this year, as will the largest pumpkin competition. NCF staff will demonstrate their cranberry harvest methods. According to NCF Director of Land Management Nick Larrabee, NCF has switched to a dry harvest “because of the poor yields that organic growing gives us. We no longer grow enough berries to justify the expenses involved with wet picking. Every berry we grow now stays on the island for the local community.”
Entries to Gertrude’s Farmstand competition, which includes homegrown flowers and vegetables, crafts, baked goods using cranberries, and the giant pumpkins, must be brought to the Harvest Fair Community Tent no later than 1 pm on Saturday, October 1 to be judged that afternoon. New events planned for the Harvest Fair include a Hot Pepper Eating Contest: those willing to test their “firebreathing” skills will have to sign up at least 30 minutes prior to that event. Look for signs at Milestone Bog that list times of the scheduled events.
Even with the combined efforts, many volunteers are still needed before the event for preparation, during the event, and after it. In addition to the fun and satisfaction of bringing a new island event to fruition, volunteers will be give free entry and parking as long as they work a 2-hour shift. There is a list of volunteer shifts along with a sign-up option at signupgenius.com/go/508094aada92ba4f49-2022 Any questions about volunteering or becoming a vendor or a sponsor can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
“This is our community event put on BY community members FOR the community,” said Slosek. “Help us out, lend a hand, and let’s bring the fun back! We are really excited to have the support of NCF. There’s a little nostalgia about Tom Nevers, but to have the help is a relief.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Island Fair,” added NCF’s Allison Levy, “the history of the fair, the history of growing cranberries…it just makes sense. It brings our [NCF] event from one day to two days, and we are excited about the new elements.
The Nantucket Harvest Fair will be held rain or shine at the Milestone Bogs, with entrance at 220 Milestone Road. The entry fees will be $25 per car (with plenty of parking) or $10 per person for those who walk or bike ($5 for walkers and bikers under age 14).