Help bring the fair back to Nantucket Island

As the season shifts from summer to fall, the frenetic pace of life in Nantucket settles into the community routine that residents know and expect in July and August. This year, two popular local events that add old-fashioned island fun to our fall are combined into one two-day community celebration.

The all-volunteer Nantucket Island Fair and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF) Cranberry Festival merge to become the Nantucket Harvest Fair. Scheduled for October 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this event promises to include fun elements of both.

When the costs of the island fair far exceeded the revenue generated each year, the organizers realized the situation was unsustainable. This financial challenge, coupled with a lack of new volunteers, led fair organizer Abby Slosek to contact NCF President and CEO Cormack Collier: spoke to his staff and board of directors . They all agreed that this collaboration makes sense for both organizations: financially and logistically. And this new Nantucket Harvest Fair will be a big draw for residents and visitors alike.

Plans for events, activities, contests, exhibits and demonstrations are still being finalized, but NCF’s Abby Slosek and Allison Levy tell us visitors can expect live music, wagon rides, Gertrude’s Farmstand, local artisans, family games, local animals and lots of food to buy for lunch. The Traditional Baking Contest and the NiSHA Dog Show will be back this year, as will the Biggest Pumpkin Contest. NCF staff will demonstrate their cranberry harvesting methods. According to NCF Land Management Director Nick Larrabee, NCF switched to dry harvesting “because of the low yields that organic farming gives us. We no longer grow enough berries to justify the expense of wet picking. Every berry we grow now stays on the island for the local community.

Entries for Gertrude’s Farmstand contest, which includes home-grown flowers and vegetables, crafts, cranberry pastries and giant pumpkins, must be brought to the Harvest Fair community tent no later than 1 p.m. on Saturday October 1st to be judged this afternoon. New events planned for the harvest fair include a hot pepper eating contest: those wishing to test their “fire breathing” skills will need to register at least 30 minutes prior to this event. Look for signs at Milestone Bog that indicate the times of scheduled events.
Even with the combined efforts, many volunteers are still needed before the event for preparation, during the event and after. Along with the fun and satisfaction of running a new island event, volunteers will enjoy free entry and parking as long as they work a 2-hour shift. There is a list of volunteer shifts as well as an option to sign up for Any questions regarding volunteering or becoming a supplier or sponsor can be directed to [email protected]

“This is our community event run BY community members FOR the community,” Slosek said. “Help us, lend us a hand, and let’s bring back the fun!” We are really happy to have the support of NCF. There’s a bit of nostalgia about Tom Nevers, but having help is a relief.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Island Fair,” added Allison Levy of NCF, “the history of the fair, the history of growing cranberries…it just makes sense. He brings our [NCF] one day to two day event, and we are excited about the new elements.

The Nantucket Harvest Fair will be held rain or shine at Milestone Bogs, with admission at 220 Milestone Road. Entrance fees will be $25 per car (with plenty of parking) or $10 per person for those walking or biking ($5 for walkers and cyclists under 14).

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