Canceled Topsfield Fair means ‘substantial’ financial hit for hundreds

TOPSFIELD, Mass. — Storms, recessions, Triple E.

For 75 years, nothing stopped the Topsfield Fair.

Then, COVID-19 came along.

“We just couldn’t make it work,” Topsfield General Manager Jim O’Brien said.

After tracking the virus for months, O’Brien said he knew there was no way to safely pull off an event that attracts around half a million people.

Tuesday night, he made the difficult decision to pull the plug on the popular 10-day event.

“I couldn’t feel comfortable that we could actually do it in a safe manner,” O’Brien.

It’s the first time the fair is being canceled since World War II.

“Some of our vendors, I hate to say it, but they may not be back next year,” O’Brien said.

The fair employs more than 200 people and attracts 500 vendors from all around the country, according to O’Brien.

Churches and other charitable organizations also depend on it as a major fundraising opportunity.

“We have so many organizations here that are non-profits that this is their big fundraiser for the year, they’re going to take a substantial hit with this,” O’Brien said.

“The whole town I would suspect is disappointed,” Konstantinos Sakkas said.

Sakkas owns the Topsfield House of Pizza and said all local businesses see a financial boost every October.

The decision to cancel the fair is another dagger in an already difficult year.

“A lot of people come into town. [The fair] actually puts the town on the map,” Sakkas said.

Bob Marshall is a longtime Topsfield resident.

“Absolutely it was the right call,” Marshall said. “It’s disappointing, especially for the kids, but it’s the right call.”

O’Brien said he’s his team is already looking ahead to next year.

“Next year’s fair is just going to come back and be better than ever. Now I’ve got no excuse, right? I’ve got more time than ever to plan and make sure everything is for our customers and our patrons,” O’Brien said.

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