SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 19, 2013

Crowds estimated at 450,000 for Topsfield Fair

TOPSFIELD — Except for one power failure and a few rain showers, this year’s Topsfield Fair was “one of the best fairs ever,” said Jim O’Brien, the fair’s general manager.

Early estimates are that 450,000 people came to the Route 1 fairgrounds between Oct. 4 and 14.

O’Brien said fair-goers were cooperative with this year’s extra security measures, added in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Extra police were posted on the property, vehicles entering the fairgrounds were checked underneath with mirrors, and every bag and parcel that was brought into the fair was checked and tagged at the gate.

“We wanted all of our patrons to feel comfortable, and it just went fantastic,” O’Brien said. “I certainly had anxiety going into it, but it turned out better than we could have hoped. ... This was all new for us. Everyone pulled together, and the customers were fantastic.”

Topsfield Police coordinated the fair security; officers from the state police and other departments were also posted at the fair during its 11-day run.

More than 14,000 students came to the fair this year for weekday field trips.

An Oct. 8 concert by Beverly native and “American Idol” finalist Angie Miller filled the fair’s 3,500-seat grandstand to standing room only, said O’Brien.

“(Miller) put on a fantastic show,” he said. “Most of our traffic (usually) comes down Route 1, but that night, the traffic was coming from Beverly. Route 97 was all backed up.”

The fairgrounds lost power for a few hours on Oct. 6 during a townwide outage.

But that was nothing compared to the misfortunes last year, when it rained for eight days of the 11-day fair. Attendance last year was low: 380,000 visitors.

On an average year, the fair draws between 450,000 and 500,000 people.

“This is certainly going into the memory books as one of the best fairs ever,” O’Brien said. “I just want to thank everybody — there was great cooperation with guests for bag searching. There were very few incidents on the grounds this year. It really came down to a total collaboration by a lot of different people.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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