Historic Sites, Topsfield

How to make the most of a visit to Topsfield Fair

WHAT:Part country fair, part honky-tonk carny and all fun
WHY:Farm animals, oversized pumpkins, food options, glittering midway and music

What do giant pumpkins, exotic rabbits, monster trucks, tilt-a-whirls and fried dough have in common? Why the Topsfield Fair, of course! First held in 1818, it has honed close to its agricultural roots for over 200 years. Part country fair — think halls displaying a menagerie of animals, farm-grown fruits and vegetables, flower arrangement and of course pies — and part family entertainment — tractor pulls, pig races, monster truck competitions — the Fair has something for pretty much everyone. Add to that musical entertainment by regional and national acts; limitless food options from down-home dinners to fried food goodness; and a full-on midway with rides from gentle to scare-yourself-silly, and you have the makings of a memorable day or evening outing. 

To plan your visit, pick a day or evening and give yourself a bit of extra time to negotiate traffic and to park your car in one of the many satellite lots. Make your way to the entrance where tickets are $20 per person, and an additional $30/per if you wish to buy unlimited ride tickets. Once inside, start with the barns in front of you, where you’ll oogle exotic rabbits, colorful chickens, ducks and peacocks, perfectly grown veggies and creative flower arrangements. Oh, and of course the biggest star in the barns, the giant pumpkins. Last year’s winner topped the scales at nearly 2,500 pounds!

From there, meander through the grounds and pick up a snack or meal from the many food kiosks as you stroll by. Just beyond the food concourse, find the Arena Barn and check the schedule for tractor, horse and ox-pulling contests, sheep dog trials, touch-a-truck opportunities for kids or figure 8 and demolition derby races. If you’re lucky, you may encounter one of several informal parades scheduled during the Fair’s two-week schedule.

After a few hours taking in all that the Fair has to offer, it’s time to head to the Midway and jump on a ride or walk through a fun house – if you dare!

The 2024 Topsfield Fair takes place on October 4 – 14. To experience the Fair’s celebration of agricultural excellence and and carney-like fun, mark your calendars now. 

FUN FACT: Route 1, on which the Topsfield Fairground is located, was originally developed as a straight tollroad from Boston to Newburyport in 1805.

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