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A New England tradition for over 200 years, the Topsfield Fair opens Friday, September 29 and runs through Monday, October 9. The usual activities are a given – you’re sure to grab some cotton candy and take a spin on your favorite rides, and you know you’ll have fun! But with so many other options of things to see and do, here are a few highlights to help you figure out how to spend your time:

1. The All-New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Watch the traditional fair-opening competition to find out if any of this year’s contenders will top last year’s record-breaking 2,480-pound giant pumpkin. Stop by the Fruit & Vegetable Building to get your very own giant pumpkin seeds and maybe next year you’ll enter the contest instead of watching!

2. Arena animal action

Sheep dog trials on October 5 are the newest addition to the list of competitive events in The Arena. Also hosting horse pulls and oxen pulls, The Arena is a hub of excitement throughout the fair.  These events are not-to-be-missed demonstrations of skill, power and teamwork. 

3. The future of farming

4-H exhibitions capture a whole year’s worth of hard work for these young participants. Whether you take in the 4-H Cattle Show or hop on over to the Rabbit and Cavy show, be sure to swing by the 4-H area to celebrate the youth in agriculture who may just be the next generation of farming in Massachusetts and across the region.

4. Beautiful blooms

Flowers of every variety fill the Flower Barn with breathing-taking blossoms and striking color combinations. Award-winning single blooms, spectacular floral arrangements, and expertly curated bonsai displays make the Flower Show an annual must-see part of the fair. Take your time wandering through the landscaped displays to start planning your own dream garden.

5. Buzz-worthy

The Beekeeping & Honey Show has been part of the Topsfield Fair for 95 years. Always creating quite a buzz, the show features up to four live observation hives on display during the fair. Knowledgeable beekeepers will explain the inner workings of a bee colony to fairgoers, and children can make their own honeycomb beeswax candle.

6. Performances galore

Whether freestyle moto-stunts get your motor running or rodeo riding is more your speed, there is a show to impress every fair-goer. The Flying Wallendas delight audiences with their aerial tightrope tricks, and the Budweiser Clydesdales inspire awe with their majesty and grace during their hitch demonstrations. Musical performances are many and varied, lending just the right ambiance to every aspect of your fair experience.

7. Easy as pie and a piece of cake

The Apple Pie Contest really evokes the feeling of the season and in past years has drawn in as many as 30 different pies. A true delight for the senses, the Coolidge Hall Kitchen is busy with cooking demonstrations and baking contests, wafting the aroma of freshly baked breads, pies, and cakes across the fairground that are all available for purchase daily. 

8. A feast for the eyes

The Fine Art exhibit showcases over 300 local amateur and professional artists, including a children’s division for artists as young as age 4. There will be demonstrations of watercolor painting technique, drawing, and more spanning the fair’s dates.

9. Cuteness overload

It’s is a risk you need to be willing to take if you go visit the baby animals during your time at the Fair. With baby chicks hatching daily and a dedicated baby bunny room, not to mention the cuddly dairy goats and hilariously feisty pigs, the animals are as much a reason as any to come on down to the fair Don’t skip the sheep show, pig races, or goat display for an up-close experience with these sweet creatures.

10. Eat up

Fair food has upped its game! Sure, the classics of cotton candy, fried dough, and popcorn will be on offer, but offerings of chocolate covered bacon, deep fried oreos, gobbler Thanksgiving-style sandwiches, fully loaded baked potatoes with every fixing you can imagine, and huge round-sliced German fries will keep your energy up throughout your visit. 

Fun for everyone

Inclusivity and accessibility are of paramount importance for the organizers of the Topsfield Fair. To ensure all feel welcome, they are offering Sensory Day on Monday, October 2. This sensory-sensitive experience of the Topsfield Fair is intended to ease the stress on individuals with autism or sensory processing disorders.

Online resources include a social story for previewing the experience and a sensory-friendly map of the fairgrounds. On this day vendors will have no flashing lights, music or announcements. Sound for entertainment and stages will be lowered and announcements on the grounds will be limited and turned down as well. 

Additionally, the Topsfield Fair is offering tips for a dementia-friendly fair experience, a kid’s safe zone for children who may need a calming space away from the crowds, a dedicated nursing mother’s lounge, and adult changing room. More information regarding accessibility can be found here.

Be sure to visit the official fair website for daily hours, ticket information, and to plan your visit.