Edgartown Stories and Tips

Amity Island Scavenger Hunt

Edgartown Intersection Photo, Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard

This was originally supposed to be a review about doing the Amity Trivia Hunt, part of Jaws Fest on Martha’s Vineyard. However, due to a variety of circumstances, although we did purchase the hunt, we were unable to start it, let alone complete it.

I have therefore filed this piece under Stories and Tips to provide some advice for anyone considering participating in this event in the future.

Some background info:

In 1972 the movie Jaws burst onto the screen defining the whole concept of the summer blockbuster, becoming the highest grossing movie ever at the time and instantly garnering a cult following. To stage Amity Island from Peter Benchley’s novel, director Steven Spielberg chose a variety of locations on and around the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard is an Island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and a very popular vacation destination for New Englanders during the summer months. It is reachable via a variety of ferry services which depart from different ports along the coast from Maine to Rhode Island. The biggest of these outfits is the Steamship Authority which operates services between Wood’s Hole (WH) on the mainland and your choice of Vineyard Haven (VH) or Oak Bluffs (OB) on the island. As far as I can tell the S.A. is the only company that carries cars and trucks as well as walk-on passengers.

Since Jaws’ release (and its subsequent sequels) every summer scores of fans make the pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard to photograph themselves in some of the movie’s iconic filming locations. (In addition to the Jaws fanatics, there are a growing number of "film location tourists" who enjoy visiting sites and sets around the world related to their favorite movies.)

These visits eventually culminated in the first organized fan event in 2005, dubbed Jaws Fest, which since 2010 has taken place annually in August.

Since we already had plans to make a trip to Martha’s Vineyard during our stay in Massachusetts, we decided to have our visit coincide with the Amity Trivia Hunt so we could combine sight-seeing with a little movie fandom and a game which might entertain the kids.

However, the Triva Hunt is not Letterboxing or Geocaching; deciphering the cryptic directions in the game book requires an intensely geeky knowledge of Jaws, including plot, dialog, character names and especially the architecture and location of the various buildings (original and purpose-built) that were depicted in the movie.

Here follow some tips that should help make your Amity Trivia Hunt more enjoyable and successful:

1. Watch the movie at least three times before attending Jaws Fest, paying special attention to the first half of the movie (before the protagonists set out on the Orca II). I casually watched it the night before thinking that would suffice. How wrong I was.

2. If you own a digital copy consider taking it along on your mobile device. (No idea if this constitutes cheating).

3. Make sure everyone tagging along is old enough to have watched and appreciated the movie so they can participate. My 2 and 6 year olds hadn’t a clue what was going on and were subsequently bored out of their minds.

4. Make sure everyone in your party is wearing comfortable shoes and is fully ambulant. A lot of walking is involved (including on beaches and other rough terrain) as well as hopping on and off buses. Parking grandma is the shade while you go traipsing about is not an option.

5. If you’re day-tripping, arrive at Wood’s Hole as early as possible. I would recommend catching the 08:15 to Vineyard Haven which should get you to Edgartown by around 09:30. Ferries depart every hour and fifteen minutes so every delay takes a significant chunk out of your day. At 09:00 the parking lots closest to the ferry dock were already full and we were redirected to the Gifford Street lot. Driving there plus waiting on and taking the shuttle bus meant we arrived back at the dock just in time to miss the 09:30 and had to wait until 10:45 for the next service. Close to noon on the Island the traffic from VH to Edgartown was bumper to bumper so it wasn’t until after 1 PM that we finally got to the Dr. Daniel Fischer House to collect the Trivia Bag.

I can’t comment on the other aspects of Jaws Fest including the VIP meet and greets, the prop museums, the shark conservation presentations and the reenactments by dedicated fans since we didn’t have the time to experience any of those. The website however says that the event was a success and that nearly 1800 people attended the screenings of Jaws in the Park at Vineyard Haven, so I’m guessing there’s a good time to be had with the rest of the program as well.

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