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September 6, 2013

New offerings, old favorites at Topsfield Fair

TOPSFIELD — The Topsfield Fair’s slogan this year is “Make time for a great time.”

And a great time it will be, with a jam-packed schedule that boasts familiar favorites, like the giant pumpkin weigh-off and draft horse pull, to new items, including a monster truck show and weekday concert by Beverly native and “American Idol” finalist Angie Miller.

And, of course, there will be the beekeeping, vegetable, rabbits, cattle, poultry and other agricultural barns the fair is known for, as well as 100 food booths.

The fair — said to be America’s oldest continually operating county fair — will open Oct. 4 and run through Columbus Day, Oct. 14.

“We have a great program. The only thing we can’t control is the weather,” said fair President Frank DiLuna at yesterday’s press preview for the 2013 fair. “We’re hoping for 11 days of sunshine.”

Last year, it rained for eight days during the fair, and attendance was low: 380,000 visitors. Usually the fair draws between 450,000 to 500,000 people, said James O’Brien, the fair’s general manager.

Fair management has adopted a number of extra security measures for this year’s fair, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in April. O’Brien said they’ve been working with local police to create an extensive security plan.

Fair-goers will see extra police on the fairgrounds, and every bag and parcel that comes into the fair will be opened and searched. Bomb-sniffing dogs will check the entire property before the gates open at 1 p.m. on Oct. 4.

The extra security measures are “proactive” and not in response to any specific threat, O’Brien said.

“We do want people to realize that at all times this fair will be safe,” he said. “We feel we have a good system that won’t slow lines down (at the gates) ... We want people to feel comfortable.”

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