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Topsfield Fair – 207 Boston Street, Topsfield MA

When: Early October, annually

Cost: $15 per person aged 8 or older (Tickets are discounted for weekdays, advanced orders, and on Senior Day. Free admission for Military on Military Day.)

Parking: $10 for lot (grass)

Expenses: Rides, games, food and any special performances are an additional cost.

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Highlights:

1.) The classic autumn fair stuff. The best part of this fair is the agriculture and art. We loved visiting the animals at the cow, chicken and rabbit barns, and interacting with them in the two petting areas. The fruit and vegetable barn had fun creative displays and a ton of decorated pumpkins and posters made by local kids. There was an art show featuring work by local artists of all ages, as well as handmade quilts, furniture, knitting and other handcrafts. One table even offered a hands-on experience where you could try to felt wool yourself.  The landscaping and flower barn was beautiful to stroll through. For my 2.5 year old, the photo-ops located outside each barn were great entertainment – she had to stick her face in each one and yell “Hellooooo!” at passers-by.

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2.) Layout. The game and ride area is located beyond everything else, making it easy to avoid if the seedy, 80’s-horror-movie carnival experience is not your thing.

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Bummers: Quite a few.

1.) The Kiddie Area is a semi-dangerous joke. What it really was was some junky cars from old rides thrown into an unfenced area with hard rubber mats under it, set out behind some of the game trailers. When my daughter got in one car I could see the wheels rolling – there were either no brakes, or they just pulled the wheels off one side and left it lopsided. There was one random Little Tykes play structure thrown in the middle. Beyond that there was a maze of hay bales which had some more ride parts within it. All of this is located by an exit, which made me nervous.

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2.) Sad animals. I noticed when we were in the bunny area a door to a back room was open, and inside I could see a large bunny in a way-too-small cage. Some of the animals do seem scared or unhappy to be there.

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3.) So much temptation. As expected, every fried, neon-colored, fat-filled, chocolate-dipped thing you could ever dream up to eat is available for purchase. Vendors tightly line every pathway so if you’re trying to keep healthy eat before you go, but expect to have to repeatedly deny requests for disgusting foods from your children. Luckily I escaped only having had to purchase one soft pretzel, which she later threw down in the chicken barn.

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Know before you go: You’ll have to wait in line for all bags to be searched, including purses.

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