The 2020 Topsfield Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Wednesday.
“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,” James O’Brien, general manager of the Topsfield Fair, said in a statement. “We understand the impact of this decision for 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. However, the safety and health of our community has to be our top priority and due to the current restrictions hosting the Topsfield Fair this year is impossible."
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The Essex Agricultural Society, which runs the fair, said the decision was made for the safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors and sponsors. The far was scheduled for Oct. 2-12.
The Topsfield Fair, known as America's Oldest Fair, has only been canceled two other times since it began in 1818. In 1918, all agricultural fairs in Massachusetts were canceled due to the Spanish Flu pandemic, and it was also canceled from 1943 to 1945 for World War II.
"We understand the disappointment that comes with this news as we feel the same," O’Brien said. "As our scheduled opening day got closer it became clear that we could not create a fun, safe, and enjoyable experience that fairgoers have come to expect and deserve."
He added that the fair is looking into the possibility of hosting some of its contests privately to continue the tradition, and will make any contest-related announcements when they are finalized.
"Everyone associated with the Essex Agricultural Society and the Topsfield Fair looks forward to better days ahead and celebrating the 2021 Topsfield Fair in October 2021," O'Brien said.
The Topsfield Fair is the latest in a series of local events that have been canceled due to the pandemic, including the Boston Marathon, the Head of the Charles Regatta, the South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Parade and the Boston Pride Parade.