The Topsham fair is set to kick off next week after being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fair officials said that the final preparation for the opening day has been completed, and they are all set to host the five-day event starting Aug 10. Harness racing, which is the pre-fair opening event, will be held on Aug 8-12 and Aug. 14.

Race director Craig Coffin said there would be about eight horses taking part in the race this year, and children and adults will have an opportunity to meet with the horse drivers.

“We have people coming from other states to witness the race,” Coffin said. “We have been putting in a lot of effort to set up everything. The racing track is ready. Hopefully, this year everything will look better than the previous years.”

Now in its 167th year, the fair is a celebration of agriculture. Each year, the Topsham fair draws an estimated 25,000 people.

“All the preparations are in place for the fair,” said Topsham Fair president Leon Brillant. “Everything is going as per the plan. There will be a mix of activities, carnival rides, food stalls, livestock and entertainment for people to enjoy.”

While some medical experts are concerned about the county fairs running at full capacity this year as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading fast, Brillant said that there are no COVID-19 restrictions. Masks — while recommended for people who aren’t vaccinated — will not be mandated.

“We are following the CDC guidelines to keep everybody safe,” said Brillant. “There will be hand-sanitizing stations set up at the venue. It is not mandatory for people to wear a mask. However, we are providing masks for people who wish to wear them. Also, we are recommending people who are not vaccinated to wear a mask.”

Last week, Maine adopted the latest public health guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in general indoor settings in substantial or high community transmission areas.

“The best advice for anyone planning to interact with others in public is to get vaccinated for COVID-19,” said Maine CDC Communications Director Robert Long. “All three authorized vaccines are extremely effective in preventing death or hospitalization with COVID-19. Maine CDC recommends that those who cannot be vaccinated wear masks during indoor public gatherings. However, recommendations for outdoor gatherings have not changed since May.”

For months, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalization rates were falling steadily, but those trends began to change at the beginning of the summer as the delta variant, a mutated version of the virus, began to spread widely, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates, according to U.S CDC.

Currently, five of the 16 counties in Maine, are considered high or substantial transmission areas for COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC. The substantial range means 50 to 99 total new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. Sagadahoc County is set at moderate transmission, which means 10 to 50 cases per 10,000 people.

Admission to the fair is $15, includes entry and access to all rides. Children under 36 inches tall get in for free, and senior citizen day is on Sunday and Tuesday.

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