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It’s fall, and time for the Topsfield Fair, the oldest in the country. Started in 1818 to encourage agriculture interest in Essex County, now also entertains with rides and games as well as the traditional mainstays. The pumpkin weigh-off is a popular New England ritual many look forward to every year. -Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
Boston Globe Archive
Oct. 7, 1946: An aerial view of the Topsfield Fair grounds in 1946. The fair, the oldest in the country, began in 1818. It was suspended for three years during the Civil War because of a government decree in view of the manpower shortage and again for three years during World War II because of gas rationing. The fairgrounds are spread over 70 acres with the midway, a half-mile strip of carnival rides, booths for winning prizes and many other attractions drawing the big crowds.
Philip N. Preston/ Globe Staff
John Wolzik (left) , 14, and Joseph Queena, 13, both of Lynn, shouted up to their friends riding the Topsfield Fair Ferris wheel.
John Sheahan/Globe Staff
Sept. 28, 1975: Janet Photiou, 28, of West Peabody drove her team in the horse-pulling contest at the Topsfield Fair. The object is to pull weight farther than any other team. Usually starting with a "boat" of six 640-pound concrete blocks, each team must pull the load at least 6 feet or be eliminated. In successive heats more weight is added. By the end of the pull, teams could be pulling as much as 9,200 pounds.
Ulrike Welsch/ Globe Staff
Oct. 7, 1976: Crowds took in the food booths and other attractions at the Topsfield Fair. The fair was traditionally held labor Day week until 1972 when Wonderland Track in Revere expanded its racing schedule into October. Dog racing replaced horse racing in 1949. The racing greyhounds came directly to Topsfield from the Revere track.
Ulrike Welsch/Globe Staff
Oct. 7, 1976: Toni Pasey, 3, (left) and Charlie Dennis, 3, from Lynn, kissed a 5-day-old baby duckling at the Topsfield Fair's poultry exhibit.
Ulrike Welsch/ Globe Staff
Oct. 3, 1977: Judging the cattle competition at the Topsfield Fair, Charles Noyes cast a critical eye at Jimmy Phelan's entry as the latter tried to keep the animal under control.
Oct. 8, 1978: At the Topsfield Fair, a group of nervous youngsters fidgeted as they awaited the judges' decision in the contest for the junior king of Essex County. The contest began in 1969 to elect both a junior king and queen and was open to youngsters 3 to 5 years of age. The young gentleman with his hands casually in his pockets (third from the left) was the winner.
Suzanne Kreiter/ Globe Staff
Oct. 9, 1990: Rachel and Casey Malec of Suffield, Conn., used their family's pumpkin to play on during the pumpkin-judging contest. They took 15th place. A 470-pound pumpkin owned by Arthur Brooks Jr. of Auburn took first prize and won $1,000.