The big event coming up this week is the popular Topsfield Fair, which opens at 10 a.m. Friday and runs through Oct. 14. Often referred to as America’s oldest county fair, this annual event began in 1818 as a one-day cattle show organized by the Essex Agricultural Society and was held in communities across Essex County including Andover, Beverly, Danvers, Georgetown, Gloucester, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Newburyport, Peabody, and Salem before it moved permanently in 1910 to a 150-acre farm given to the society in 1858 by Dr. John Goodhue Treadwell for the promotion of the science of agriculture.
We bring up this bit of history because it’s what makes the fair special and imbues the colorful fall festival with a deep sense of place and purpose. The Topsfield Fair is more than giant pumpkins; animal exhibits and judging; carnival rides, games, and food; musical performances; horse, oxen, and tractor pulls; demolition derbies and auto racing; baking contests; crafts demonstrations; parades; and the ceaseless festival-like atmosphere.
You’ll find all that, of course, at the 201st Topsfield Fair, 207 Boston St. Its “New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off,” usually among the most popular attractions for the half-million visitors expected each year, takes place Friday in the Arena from 4 to 10 p.m., with competitors startnig to arrive at 1 p.m. Will somebody top last year’s champion gardener, Ron Wallace, whose winning gourd came in at a record 2,114 pounds? For more information and a full schedule, visit www.topsfieldfair.org.
Show me the money: If you’re thinking about public transportation, as we do every day we drive into Boston in search of that uncertain parking spot near the MBTA that we ride to our job downtown, you may be interested in this event Thursday in Newton hosted by the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber. Titled “Funding and fixing Massachusetts’ transportation mess” and led by Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts (a coalition of advocates for improving transportation across the state); and Kathryn Carlson, director of transportation for A Better City (a group of business leaders trying to enhance Boston and the region’s economic health and quality of life), the presentation will take place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. in the Wells Ave. Auditorium, 85 Wells Ave.
“Public transportation and roadway conditions have reached a crisis level across the state but especially along and inside the I-95 corridor,” the chamber said in a release. “Finally, it appears Beacon Hill may be open to doing something about it, with both House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka recently asking the business community for input on how to pay for desperately-needed investments in transportation.”
The chamber said Thursday’s presentation will include a discussion of the challenges and some of the funding options that may be considered as soon as this fall, after which attendees will be invited to help advise its directors on which proposals it should ask lawmakers to support. Visit www.nnchamber.com.
Bratwurst, boards, and beer: In Arlington on Saturday, the Old Schwamb Mill, 17 Mill Lane, which bills itself as the oldest continuously operating mill site in the United States, will hold its third annual Oktoberfest from noon to 4 p.m. celebrating the Schwamb family’s German heritage. There’ll be German food, craft beer, a silent arts and crafts auction, children’s activities, mill tours, a mixed-media art show, and live music. Visit www.oldschwambmill.org.
Come on in: In Marshfield, the second annual “Explore Marshfield” weekend takes place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with family-friendly events planned at venues around the town. Kickoff events will be held at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, 140 Main St., on Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. On Saturday beginning at 2 p.m., a roots music concert and a “National Diversity Day” program will take place at the Ventress Memorial Library, 15 Library Plaza. And on Sunday, the town’s heritage Marcia Thomas House, Daniel Webster Estate and Law Office, and Historic Winslow House will open for free tours. Visit the “Explore Marshfield” page on Facebook.
L. Kim Tan can be reached at email@example.com.