TOPSFIELD, MASS. --
What started off as a small cattle show in the upper, colorful edges of Massachusetts, is now one of the oldest fairs in the country. The Topsfield Fair, which began in 1818, drew in more than 500,000 visitors this year with hundreds of attractions ranging from small petting farms to live, musical concerts.
One special attraction came in the form of the harmonious sounds, with a distinct blend of military precision, of the 2nd Marine Division Band.
“On the drums,” bellowed the drum major as he prepared the Marine musicians to march toward the fairground arena.
The sounds of beating snare drums and bass echoed throughout the fair, attracting listeners by the dozens. Benches and seats inside the venue filled up quickly as “The Division’s Own” took their place onstage.
The all-Marine band serenaded the large audience with classical tunes ranging from John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” to their own rendition of “The Saints.”
“We had never played at Topsfield before and it couldn’t have gone any better,” said Sgt. Tim Hanna of N.Y. “We kept pretty busy, and the Marines didn’t get very much downtime, but it gave them exposure to a busy work schedule and they performed superbly.”
The Marines performed a total of six shows, two shows per day, for a total of three days. Not even the cool weather and pouring rain kept these military musicians off the stage.
Dozens of attendees filled the weathered seats and stands to hear the unique sounds of the band. Some of the faces in the crowd were taken back to reminiscent days of their time in the armed forces when the band treated them to their renditions of each military branch’s service song.
“It was great to see these guys come out here and play an entire concert for us,” said Essex, Mass., native Daniel Johnson, a Marine who served in the late 1970s. “I could tell my wife was getting emotional when she saw me stand up at attention during the playing of The Marine’s Hymn. Heck, it nearly brought me to tears.”
It was apparent many service members, sprinkled throughout the audience, appreciated the recognition for their service to their country. Not a single concert went by where the Marines weren’t given a standing ovation, and long applauds came after the playing of every song.
Many of the Marines, including Cpl. Alexander Hoffman of Mt. Zion, Ill., and a trombone instrumentalist with the band, fed off the energy of the crowd, making each performance all the better.
“The crowds were really responsive and appreciative,” said Hoffman, who has been on more than a dozen band trips similar to this one. “It wasn’t like past performances. We really fed off the crowd’s energy which made us want to perform as well as possible.”
The entire 2nd Marine Division Band concluded they cannot wait to be back next year and wanted to extend an enormous thank you to every sponsor who made the trip possible.