By Rachel Holt

TOPSFIELD (CBS) – Bob Burkinshaw, owner of Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie out of Salem, is preparing for the Topsfield Fair. If anyone knows what to expect, it’s him.

“This is our 71st year at the fair. My parents started doing it in 1950. We’re the oldest exhibitor at the fair in continuous operation,” said Burkinshaw.

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America’s oldest agricultural fair is now in its 203rd year, and for many like Burkinshaw, it’s a tradition to look forward to year after year. An indoor mask mandate will be in effect, as a number of anticipated events and activities make their return.

“We’ve got the tractor pulls, the giant pumpkin contest, so there’s lots to see and do. We have five stages on the group that are running continuously all day long as well as all of the other events in the buildings,” said Topsfield Fair General Manager James O’Brien.

O’Brien says he expects to see anywhere between 400-500 thousand people during the fair’s run.

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“It’s a huge money engine for the entire region. It’s not just Topsfield, it’s not just the fair. People come here from all over the United States, all over the world,” said O’Brien.

The Topsfield Fair opens on Friday and runs through October 11th, and after a year off due to the pandemic, vendors and attendees alike are eager to be back.

“We’ve come every year. We used to drive by every day and all year long they’d say, nine more months ‘til the fair. Eight more months ‘til the fair. It’s just a routine we’ve done every year,” said Michelle Callahan of Rowley.

“You do it that many years it’s part of your life. We just look forward to it,” said Burkinshaw.

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For more on the Topsfield Fair, visit:

Rachel Holt