MV Chilifest (also known as the Big Chili Contest) is right around the corner on January 24, 2015 this year! Start getting excited for the fun of the ferry ride packed with happy people headed to the big tent with all you can eat chili donated from local restaurants, live music and plenty of cold beer. Sponsored by mvyRadio, this day of wintery fun and games benefits the local Red Stocking Fund and raises over $30,000 for local charity.
The ferries leave Woods Hole starting early with eager restauranteurs carting hot chili for the MV Chilifest. There are free buses on the Martha’s Vineyard side to the PA Club in Oak Bluffs where the crowd gathers under a huge tent with heaters. About 3,000 people attend, and the party lasts most of the day, at least until all the soups are consumed and prizes handed out for winners. Tickets to the Martha’s Vineyard Big Chili Contest are hard to get, mostly sold at local bars and hangouts both on the island and in Falmouth.
This year, the Woods Hole Inn is offering a special MV Chilifest package with free Chilifest and ferry tickets included in your two night stay. Conveniently located across the street from the Steamship Authority ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, our two night package is a great deal. You can see all the details on our specials page. Book now while supplies last.
Here are some snapshots of all the fun from prior years, or go ahead and dive into the blog archive for the full story.
This week was hot, hot like life on the proverbial tin roof, so I lit out for the open air of the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, hoping to catch a little wind on the way, and see the sights in Oak Bluffs. I have been to the Vineyard many times before, but never explored every nook and cranny of this hip little island town, so here — after an afternoon of beating the streets — are my favorite to things to do in Oak Bluffs:
1. Hunt for a Souvenir.
From Soft as a Grape to Menemsha Blues to the Black Dog, there is a t-shirt for everyone on the main strip which is called Circuit Avenue. I wandered into the Black Dog and admired their fluffy sweatshirts with the ubiquitous large retriever. Tip for shoppers: While there appears to be a Black Dog on every corner, the “outlet” store sells much of the same stuff at a discount in a small shop down by the marina called the Dockside Premium Outlet.
2. Go Upscale.
Since the Vineyard was discovered by the masses in the last decade or so (much to the chagrin of the folks who have loved it for centuries), the shopping has gone upscale, especially in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. But even rough and tumble Oak Bluffs now has a Vineyard Vines, so don’t miss this wonderful shop painted navy and hot pink at the end of Circuit Avenue.
3. Eat an Ice Cream.
Do not leave OB without an ice cream cone. Mad Martha’s, Ben and Bill’s — doesn’t matter much which place you choose, you will be sure to leave with that blissed out, I-am-on-vacation-and-I-just consumed-three-days-worth-of sugar smile.
4. Visit the Gingerbread Cottages
Just behind Circuit Ave sits the neighborhood known as the “Gingerbread Cottages.” This incredible collection of brightly-painted Victorian summer cottages was originally a Methodist campgrounds but is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is a cherished spot for visitors and residents alike. Stroll back in time on the tiny pedestrian streets, their yards cluttered with day lillies and porches jammed with Kennedy rockers painted every color of the rainbow.
5. Grab an iced coffee.
Plenty of choice here for the quintessential frosty coffee crammed with ice. I went with decaf and lots of milk, and the cup in my hand kept me cool for several extra blocks of exploration.
6. Ride the Flying Horses.
This 100+ year old carousel is just as charming as it looks in photos. You will see it immediately as you get off the ferry in OB, and be sure to wait for a ride — it’s worth it!
7. The Beach.
Is there anything better than a beach right next to a ferry terminal? The Jersey Shore has nothing on this, with calm waters, a waterfront park and the shops a stone’s throw from the sand. Feeling ambitious? Rent a bike and ride towards Edgartown. You will come upon the “Jaws” bridge — with kids jumping off the causeway into the tidal currents below just like they did 30+ years ago in the movie.
8. Ride the ferry home to Woods Hole.
Nothing better at the end of a full day of sightseeing than flopping into an ocean-view seat for the cool ferry ride home. Watch the gulls circle above the deck and feel the southwesterly breeze on your face. Well-earned relaxation at it’s very finest.
Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler. Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.
Not this year.
It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now. Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather. Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath. I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims. In this calm, warm weather, why not?
I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands. I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary! It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.
Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats. I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era. Not too practical, but adorable.
Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.” I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard) in this stylish vessel!
And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor. My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style. She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise. These are the perks of living so close to the water:)
So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer. Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer. Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”). Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.
Off to swim!