December 3, 2021

Zaika

Livingston

11 New England Fall Fairs The Entire Family Will Love

7 min read

Brilliant blue skies, gorgeous colorful foliage, cozy flannel shirts, and show-stopping cowboy boots are the hallmarks of fall festivals. Enjoying local agricultural fairs, harvest festivals, and celebrations of autumn’s arrival are perfect for fun extended family outings. We have assembled a list of 10 of our favorite New England fall fairs your entire family will love. Get out and celebrate!

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1. The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts

The Big E is the grand celebration of fall in New England. It is a wonderful event to explore, offering fun events and activities for the whole family. Not only a New England harvest festival, but the exposition is also a collection of events, stages, and competitions that celebrate the fall season and life on the farm.

The anchoring events are the agricultural shows and judging. Sheep, cattle, horses, and other farm animals are on display and their wranglers are hoping to garner the top prize. Farm dogs strut their stuff in shows and competitions and amaze onlookers with their agility and keen intellect.

A unique Big E event is the butter sculpture in the Mallary Rotunda celebrating eastern dairy farmers. Other events of note are the 4-H Dairy Grilled Cheese and Milkshake Contest, Giant Pumpkin & Squash Weigh-Off, Llama & Alpaca Costume Contest.

Arts and crafts are a large part of the Big E. You will see lace, crochet, knitting, felting, and spinning artisanal displays and demonstrations.

Live music and entertainment at the Big E is a concertgoer’s dream. This year’s lineup includes Billy Idol, Zach Williams, Styx, Pat Benatar, and others.

When: September 17–October 3, 2021

Giant Pumpkins at the Topsfield Fair.
Topsfield Fair

2. Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, Massachusetts

The 203rd Topsfield Fair is a true classic fall festival filled with midway rides, games, food, music, and more.

The lineup of musical performances includes Frankie Avalon, Phil Vassar, Tony Orlando, and others; affording attendees a trip down memory lane.

In the arena, you will witness a long-standing tradition of a stock farm tractor pull where participants use un-modified, farm tractors built in 1970 or earlier. The demolition derby is always an exciting fun family event. Of course, the horses steal the show, and the Draft Horse Show and horse-pulling events are fun to watch. The fair’s old-fashioned rodeo, monster truck freestyle show, and sheepdog trials round out an exciting day at the fair.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off is a highlight of the fair. Pumpkins have clocked in at over 2,000 pounds. Check out this year’s contestants, the weigh-off is scheduled for October 1st. 

When: October 1–11, 2021

Sheep being held and sheared at the Fryeburg Fair Sheep Shearing.
Rachel Andrews Damon

3. Fryeburg Fair, Fryeburg, Maine

The Fryeburg Fair is a family-focused, fun for everyone event that draws visitors from across the region. The fair includes traditional agricultural shows like sheep shearing, horse pulling, harness racing, and other farm animal events. You can also attend its flower show, poultry show, swine show, and live animal auction along with other classic 4-H exhibits and demonstrations. There are arts and crafts demonstrations like wreath making, maple syrup creations, and a fudge contest that is sure to be extra tasty. 

Unusual contests like the skillet throw, open pig scramble, steer and oxen costume parade, and duck herding are fun to watch. Only the bravest farmers participate in these funny bone-tickling events. 

If you want to spend a few days at the fair, you can camp onsite and enjoy several days of fall festival fun.

When: October 3–10, 2021

Colorful greens at the 2017 Common Ground Country Fair held annually in Maine.
Peter Pierce / Shutterstock.com

4. Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, Maine

Set in the heart of bucolic Maine is the Common Ground Country Fair produced by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. The fair focuses on healthy, organic living and the participants are dedicated to an environmentally friendly lifestyle. You will find an assortment of Maine-focused vendors including Maine fiber farms, Maine Indian basket makers, Maine arts and crafts, and an organic farmers market.

The speakers and presenters are well-versed in healthy and organic farming practices. Along with livestock presentations and agricultural demonstrations, you will encounter social and political action, low-impact forestry and environmental concerns, and ecologically sound energy practices. 

When: September 24–26, 2021

5. Deerfield Fair, Deerfield, New Hampshire

The Deerfield Fair is a traditional New England fair offering all the great activities you want from a fall country festival. 

The classic agricultural fair has show-stopping demonstrations that are the highlight of the festival. The traditional horse shows, sheep shearing, sheepherding dog demonstrations, and cattle shows are the stars of the barn. However, fun and crazy activities like the pig scramble, antique tractor pull, and back seat driving contest will bring on a big old belly laugh. 

The main entertainment stage offers productions for every taste. Bluegrass, doo wop, country, and folk rock bands bring a lively feeling to the fairgrounds. Other entertainment includes circus and high wire acrobatics, puppet shows, magicians, and other family-friendly fun. You know there is going to be a wonderful selection of yummy fair food; fried dough, candy apples, and more goodies.

Camping is offered with hookups or dry camping at the fair. Stay onsite for a family-friendly getaway weekend.

When: September 30–October 3, 2021

6. Highland Games & Festival, Lincoln, New Hampshire

Loon Mountain Resort, in the beautiful White Mountains, is home to the New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival. Scottish celebratory traditions are on full display for you to discover the lively customs and fun activities of the historic Scottish heritage. 

Kilts, kilts, kilts, and more kilts, find your clan in the clan village and discover your Scottish roots and family’s tartan.

The festival’s cuisine has a definite Scottish leaning. Exploring the world through eating a country’s famous dishes is a form of entertainment all its own. You will find delectable treats like haggis, Scotch eggs, bridies, and more at the Highland Games. Dig in, you may discover your new favorite. 

Get into the swing and attempt some of the Try It Classes. Unique options include curling and stone lifting. Listen to the sounds of Celtic bands that will get your feet moving to the upbeat rhythm. Sheepdog displays of herding, speed, and agility are a joy to watch and the highland dancers will entertain you with their quick-footed steps.

Of course, no true Scot would hold a festival without a whisky tasting, so you can count on that as one of the main events.

When: September 17–19, 20221

Elaborate sand castle on display at the Champlain Valley Vermont State Fair in Essex, Vermont.
Sand Castle at Champlain Valley Fair (Photo Credit: vermontalm / Shutterstock.com)

7. Champlain Valley Fair, Essex Junction, Vermont

The Champlain Valley Fair is everything you want in a down-home Vermont country fair.

The grandstand stage is home to tribute bands that specialize in a wide assortment of musical styles. Country music tributes to Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, and others join tributes to Elton John, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and others. It has a music festival atmosphere in a casual, comfortable setting.

Midway rides and games, demolition derby, 4-H exhibits, model train displays, antique tractor exhibits, crafts, maple tastings, and all things country fair are ready to entertain you at the Champlain Valley Fair.

When: August 27–September 5, 2021

Floating above the ground through Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Gabe Shakour / Shutterstock.com

8. Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival, Quechee, Vermont

Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival is the Upper Valley’s most colorful festival. Whether you are viewing a morning, sunrise ascension, or watching the magical evening balloons lit against the darkness, this festival is unique and out of the ordinary.

There are lots to do while the balloons are floating high above the ground. There are food vendors, a beer and wine garden for the adults, a kids zone for the munchkins, music, and entertainment to add to the festivities.

Stay for a longer visit, we can help you plan your perfect weekend in charming Quechee.

When: September 3–5, 2021

Black llama standing up against green gate.
Jennifer Schulten

9. Durham Fair, Durham, Connecticut

The Durham Fair is a classic that has been entertaining fairgoers for over 100 years.

The four-day schedule is packed with lots of fall season fun for the entire family. Livestock barns allow you to visit with the animals up close and include llamas, poultry, pigs, sheep, cows, goats, and rabbits. The demolition derby, tractor pulls, animal shows, draft horse pull, and sewing demonstrations bring home New England’s pioneer spirit.

With a classic midway full of rides and games and the farm museum with antique New England farm equipment there is something for everyone. The Great Lakes timber show features chainsaw carving, ax throwing, log rolling, and other lumberjack antics for your enjoyment. Live music from centerstage rounds out the entertainment portion of the festival.

When: September 23–26, 2021

Goshen Fair pumpkins, carved to say "Welcome", "Goshen", "Fair."
Patricia Slonina

10. Goshen Fair, Goshen, Connecticut

The Goshen Fair brings the fall festival tradition to Connecticut.  

The fair showcases livestock barns and exhibition halls where you can view llamas, goats, sheep, poultry, cows, and other farm animals. All tractor pulls are not created equal, at the Goshen Fair you can view a classic tractor pull, a garden tractor pull, and an antique tractor pull. There is live music to keep everyone entertained and you can count on delicious fair munchies.

Classic displays of home gardening showcasing exceptional veggies will wow you with their growing techniques. Arts and crafts displays, needlework, and other forms of traditional art are on display in the exhibit halls for your enjoyment. 

When: September 4–6, 2021

Four wine glasses filled with different wines at the Wine Tasting And Food Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Preservation Society of Newport County

11. Newport Mansions Wine And Food Festival, Newport, Rhode Island

Experience an adult fall festival at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival. This festival is a celebration of beautiful wines and amazing cuisine. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the Rosecliff Mansion or the Breaker’s Stable as you sip and dine your way around the world.

Champagne, Pinot Noir, and other grapes join bourbon, gin, and tasty spirits ripe for the glass. Expertly paired with local cuisine, you will love the gorgeous ambiance and the sumptuous repast.

Newport is the perfect spot to spend a long getaway weekend; we have some great ideas for your visit in our piece about this beautiful city. 

When: September 17–19, 2021

Pro Tip: This year, many fairs across New England are offering pre-event ticket sales, some requiring pre-event purchases with no tickets sold at the gate. 

Get out and enjoy classic fall foliage and explore some New England fall fairs the whole family will love. And while you’re at it, see what else New England has to offer:

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