TOPSFIELD — Ayla Brown and her newfound country sound will be among the many musical acts performing at this year's Topsfield Fair, which starts tomorrow.

National acts headlining the fair include country stars Phil Vassar and Randy Houser; Mike Posner, whose catchy hit "Cooler Than Me" has been climbing the charts all summer; and reggae rapper Sean Kingston, whose hits include "Letting Go," "Beautiful Girls" and "Fire Burning." (Fans may know Kingston suffered a bad jet ski accident in May.)

"I can't wait," said a good-natured Vassar, who is looking forward to playing opening night at the Topsfield Fair in the outdoor Grandstand. "It's not ... one of those sit-down-on-your-hands kind of shows."

Most shows are free with fair admission, which is $12 over the weekends and the Columbus Day holiday and $10 from Oct. 3 to 6.

Along with giant pumpkins, animals, rides and food, musical acts have become a major draw for the Topsfield Fair.

"That's the first thing people ask me," General Manager James O'Brien said. "Who's playing at the fair?'"

O'Brien is especially excited by the musical acts on tap this year, from Vassar's opening show to the husband-and-wife duo of Joey + Rory, who have penned songs for country artists Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis, among others. Their debut album, "The Life of a Song," spawned a country hit, "Cheater, Cheater."

"I heard them," O'Brien said. "They were excellent."

One of the highlights for country fans is the Texaco Country Showdown, a battle of country bands. The bands will compete for a chance at a national title and $100,000 in prize money

There's more to the music than pop and Nashville country acts. The Kid Fiddlers from Las Vegas — a mom and five children, ages 9 to 20, will focus on family entertainment. Fans of Scottish music can hear the trio North Sea Gas.

Ayla Brown, Phil Vassar

Brown has performed at the fair before, but this year she's bringing her new Nashville sound. Known locally as the daughter of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and nationally as a top 16 "American Idol" contestant in 2006, Brown sang the national anthem before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride last year.

"You will find she is a nice person," O'Brien said, "and she is very personable."

Brown, 23, knows the Topsfield Fair well, as she has been coming to the fairgrounds with her family since she was 7. Her father hails from Wakefield and is a big fair fan, she said.

She is hoping the weather will hold this year, as it rained during her performance last year. On the other hand, she got to perform in front of her grandmother, who does not get to see her sing very often.

"I'm so excited they gave me an opportunity to come back," said Brown, who this past July 4 opened for Darius Rucker, the former lead singer for "Hootie and the Blowfish," who has since made the leap to country music. Brown is trying to do the same thing. She is now living and writing songs in Nashville, hoping to catch on there.

Country fans know Vassar for his 2000 hit "Just Another Day in Paradise."

Vassar, who plays piano, has an upbeat sound full of twangy guitars that may appeal to both country and non-country fans. His latest music video, "Let's Get Together," could be played as a prelude to a giant pool party in your backyard.

Vassar, 46, has never played the Topsfield Fair, but he has played concerts in the Northeast and says there are a lot of good country fans in the area.

Local acts

If you want to hear some homegrown talent, you can't get more local than the Topsfield pop rock duo of Michael and Marisa, a teenage brother-and-sister act.

The Jessica Prouty Band is also local, fronted by vocalist and bass guitarist Prouty, an 18-year-old student studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She's a graduate of Marblehead High. The band came in a close second at the National Association of Music Merchants' 2010-2011 SchoolJam USA, a nationwide battle of teen bands.

"It's nice to play close to home," Prouty said.

Drummer Cam Pelkey, 18, also hails from Marblehead; Andy Covino, 16, is a junior at Swampscott High; and Cody Nilsen, 18, comes from Wilmington.

Prouty said the band is 4 years old and has played the Topsfield Fair for the past two years.

"It's awesome," she said of playing the fair, "because it draws a local crowd."

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.

Fair music

The following is a list of Grandstand and Arena musical acts, but there will be plenty of others at different venues at the fair. Go to www.topsfieldfair.org for a daily schedule.

Musical acts are free with fair admission, except the shows in the Arena on Oct. 8.

Friday, Sept. 30

Phil Vassar, 7 p.m., Grandstand

Saturday, Oct. 1

Joey + Rory, 7 p.m., Grandstand

Sunday, Oct. 2

Texaco Country Showdown, 4 to 10 p.m., Grandstand

Monday, Oct. 3

Kid Fiddlers, 2 and 7 p.m., Grandstand

Tuesday, Oct. 4

North Sea Gas, 2 and 7 p.m. Grandstand

Wednesday, Oct. 5

Ayla Brown, 7 p.m., Grandstand

Thursday, Oct. 6

Sean Kingston, 7 p.m., Grandstand

Friday, Oct. 7

Randy Houser, 7 p.m., Grandstand

Saturday, Oct. 8

Allstar Weekend & Burnham, 11 a.m., Arena (tickets $15)

Mike Posner, 6 p.m., Arena (tickets $34)

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