Essex Agricultural Society Cancels This Year’s Topsfield Fair Over Pandemic Concerns

Topsfield Fair entrance. (Creative Commons.)

The coronavirus pandemic claims another victim—this time, the Topsfield Fair.

The Essex Agricultural Society, organizers of the fair, said Wednesday it would a cancel the event—for only the third time in its more than 200-year history. Topsfield Fair General Manager James O’Brien said the action was taken for the safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors and sponsors. In light of current restrictions, he said, having the event is “impossible.”

“For the past few months we have continued to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and, based on the recommendations of local, state, and federal health agencies, the board of directors of the Essex Agricultural Society has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Topsfield Fair,” he said. O’Brien said the Society recognizes the impact on small businesses, family farms, competitors and exhibitors and “the disappointment of hundreds of thousands of people who look forward to the Topsfield Fair each year.”

As late as last month, Bill Fitzgerald, of Mann Orchards in Methuen and president of the Topsfield Fair board, told WHAV listeners how the Society was moving ahead cautiously.

“The goal of the Essex Agricultural Society is to make people feel safe and secure when they come to the fair. It’s always been that way, but this year it will be a triple effort to make sure people feel safe and secure when they come there,” he said.

Since America’s Oldest Fair began in 1818, it has only been canceled two other times.  In 1918 all agricultural fairs in the state were cancelled due to a worldwide influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and again during 1943-1945 for World War II.  When the fair returned in 1946, it opened to record-breaking attendance.

O’Brien said the Society is studying whether some of the contests can be hosted privately.

Comments are closed.