Now entering its third century, the Topsfield Fair will be back this year from Oct. 4-14.
After pulling out all the stops last year for its 200th anniversary, there is still plenty in store for visitors to this year’s event, which is sponsored by the Essex Agricultural Society.
Music is always huge at the fair, and this year is no exception, with a lineup that is suited to a year when the 50th anniversary of Woodstock is being celebrated.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited, which was formed by Creedence Clearwater Revival founding members Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, will play at a ticketed event in the Topsfield Fair Arena on Saturday, Oct. 12.
Tommy James and The Shondells, who helped define the 1960s with “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” will be on the Grandstand stage on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Southern rockers 38 Special will also play on the Grandstand, on Oct. 10, and roots musicians Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will appear there on Oct. 11.
But the biggest star of the Topsfield Fair is usually the pumpkin that wins the weigh-off organized by the New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Association.
This will be the 35th year that these massive orange cucurbits have been hoisted onto scales at the fair.
Just as the sound barrier was broken by Chuck Yeager in 1947 and the four-minute mile was finally run by Roger Bannister in 1954, a giant pumpkin grown by Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, finally passed the 1-ton milestone in 2014. He came back last year and smashed his old record with an entry weighing 2,114 pounds.
The weigh-in is the first event at the fair, but the opening ceremonies are held the following morning after a Grand Parade leaves Topsfield Common and winds its way to the fairgrounds on Route 1.
The monster trucks will be back, rides will spin without mercy on the midway and the hot dog-eating contest that debuted last year will be back for seconds.
A range of fair foods, which may be the most satisfying form of comfort food, will rev up visitors’ appetites.
A demolition derby will dig up some dirt in the arena, and a Figure 8 race will give spectators butterflies, as they wonder which cars are likely to crash (albeit at speeds from 5-15 mph).
But for modern visitors, who may never have set foot on a farm, the agricultural heart of the Topsfield Fair may provide its most satisfying features.
These include the beekeeping and honey show, run by the Essex County Beekeepers Association, where visitors can learn how honey is made and wax can be turned into candles.
The sows and piglets at the Pig Barn should convince anyone who has never met one of these creatures that they are not only delicious, but delightful.
The range of breeds on display at the Cattle Barn provides a lesson in agricultural diversity, and daily milking demonstrations let visitors appreciate everything that’s involved in producing this beverage.
Goats, poultry, and rabbits and cavies (which include guinea pigs) can also be examined closely, in settings devoted to their care and breeding.
And along with all these creatures, a range of fruit and produce is exhibited at the fair, along with a variety of fragrant flowers.
IF YOU GO
What: Topsfield Fair
When: Friday, Oct. 4, through Monday, Oct. 14
Where: Topsfield Fairgrounds, 207 Boston St., Route 1, Topsfield
How much: Advance tickets are $12; in-season admission is $15. Free for children under 8. Parking fees at lots surrounding the fairgrounds.
More information: www.topsfieldfair.org