The Topsfield Fair always packs a ton of action and activities into its annual 11-day run, but this year promises to be bigger and better than ever as the fair celebrates its 200thbirthday. The fairground’s 83 acres are filled with farm displays, carnival rides, games, parades, music, food, and thrilling performances, plus celebratory fireworks. That’s why we’ve broken down our top 10 things to do (and, of course, eat) to make your visit to the Topsfield Fair the most unforgettable one yet.
1. Fabulous food: For many people, the Topsfield Fair isn’t complete without munching on a few of its iconic foods. A few faves: Learned’s Apple Crisp, German fries, jumbo turkey legs, caramel apples, the “gobbler” sandwich (Thanksgiving dinner on a roll), and this year, the fair’s first hot dog eating contest.
2. Memorable music: Martina McBride is among the big names performing at this year’s fair. Catch her show in the Arena on October 6. Also, don’t miss Chubby Checker, the Charlie Daniels Band, Sara Evans, and lots of other performers throughout the fairgrounds, including in the picnic area and on the Trianon Stage.
3. Nail-biting thrills: Crane your neck and hold your breath as daredevils defy gravity and crunch up cars during the Topsfield Fair’s exciting thrill shows. There are monster trucks, a demolition derby, an FMC freestyle show, and, in a throwback to fairs of yesteryear, a Human Cannonball performing daily.
4. The sweet smell of flowers: The Topsfield fair is boisterous and busy, filled with the excited kids and bleating animals. But for a sweet-smelling lull, visit the flower building, where you’ll find hundreds of beautiful fresh flower arrangements and elaborate, built-in landscape displays with bubbling waterfalls, fish ponds, and peaceful garden paths.
5. Sweet new life: There’s nothing sweeter than seeing a crowd of kids peering into an egg incubator or cradling a fluffy newborn chick in their hands. That’s the adorable scene inside the poultry building where kids can get up-close to brand new life. They can also check out beautiful babies in the pig barn, where a sow and her piglets spend their days.
6. Art on display: It’s not only farmers and backyard gardeners who display their prize-winning entries at the fair. Inside the fair’s Coolidge Hall you’ll find incredible local artistry on display, from photography and paintings, to intricate handmade quilts, and fine art for sale. Coolidge Hall is also home to the fair’s canning and baking contests, like the annual apple pie contest.
7. On your mark: It’s time to race! There are racing pigs, sure, but it’s also a ton of fun to watch kids (and even a few adults) race against gravity as they try to scramble up to the top of the “money pole,” a 15-foot high, firefighter-style metal pole in the Essex County Farmyard. If they touch the top, they get a prize.
8. A step back in time: The fair celebrates its bicentennial this year, so it’s only fitting that fairgoers get a bit of history when they visit. At the New Meadows Village area, there’s a working blacksmith shop, woodturners demonstrating their craft, a maple sugar shack, cider mill, and more. And over in the Grange building, fairgoers can check out the fair’s collection of antique farm implements.
9. Magnificent horses: This year’s fair is once again playing host to the impressive Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride, but that’s not the only place you’ll find beautiful horses. You can also see them during the horse pull and draft horse show.
10. A Cinderella-worthy pumpkin: Did you think we would forget the Topsfield Fair’s most famous attraction? Every year, the All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off kicks off the fair, as growers compete to see who’s grown the most scale-busting gourd. The winning pumpkin is housed in the fruit and vegetable building for the duration of the fair, where folks line to snap a picture and possibly even glimpse history: The Topsfield Fair showed off the world’s first one-ton pumpkin back in 2012.