October 11, 2019: Ghost Nor’easters and God-Gourds

On October 4, we tried to hit up Topsfield Fair on the North Shore of Massachusetts, failed, and ended up down in an old church crypt in Boston. Today was time to try again. Although, based on that last adventure, I half-wished we’d fail again, just to see where we would end up.

And failure was a definite possibility, as a particularly nasty nor’easter had been threatening the area for days but hadn’t materialized at all. So a ghost nor’easter. But the morning was gray and cold and it seemed like that ghost nor’easter could jump out and boo us at any moment.

But we decided to risk going to the fair anyway…for a giant pumpkin.

I loved those deformed, pale monsters. They look like they were grown in subterranean caves and fed from the bottoms of graveyards. Last year, we witnessed the new national record holder. That pumpkin was 2,528 pounds, and out of New Hampshire. It was the second-biggest pumpkin on the planet. The world record holder is 2,624.6, from some cat out in Belgium (yes, this is a global sport). This year, the orange monster we wanted to see was a 2,294.5-pound behemoth out of Connecticut. That puts it at number eight worldwide.

We figured if we went to this fair, saw the god-gourd, and got rained back into our car, it would still be worth it.

And, turns out, it was way worth it, and not just for the pumpkin.

The crowds were low, the weather coat-cool, and I enjoyed the fair more than I’ve enjoyed a fair in a long time. I just have too many memories of unseasonably hot, sun-beat, crowded fairs. This was perfect fair conditions.

We saw the pumpkin right away, just in case, and then wended our way through barn animals and agricultural competitions (there was even a Christmas tree contest), wandered the midway, and got us some serious carnival food. Like, I said, I was feeling fair-y and since not a single booth had a line, it was like all of those vendors were there to satisfy our own personal avaricious appetites. We ate caramel apples and corn dogs and dinosaur turkey legs and ribbon chips topped with jalapenos and cheese. None of the rides were open yet (and there was some doubt as to whether they’d be open at all, considering the weather conditions), which was a slight bummer, as Topsfield has both a haunted house and a dark ride. But sometimes just seeing those facades is good enough.

Every once in a while, I’d see a police officer stationed in full uniform and a yellow visibility vest, and that will always remind me of the autumn fair scene in Death and Douglas, where the police are on high alert for the serial killer. So that’s what I always pretend they're doing.

We spent a couple hours at the fair, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing. I prepared a brand new presentation for my upcoming Westport, Connecticut, appearance on the 24th, and we made a couple caramel apple martinis and watched the premiere episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which centers on an evil fair run by a Mr. Dark-clone named Mr. Tophat. Which sounds hackneyed, but it was a really good opening episode. I'll keep watching, for sure.

But that was our day. From Topsfield to Mr. Tophat.