By Bethany Bray
---- — BEVERLY — Beverly Main Streets’ July 13 block party was such a success that a second one is being planned as part of homecoming week.
Beverly Homecoming, a Garden City tradition since 1966, unofficially kicks off Thursday with the annual fun run and road race, and continues through Aug. 11. More than 80 events are packed into the festival, from softball games and cardboard boat races to a baked-bean contest and plenty of live music.
Beverly Main Streets’ block party, which will close Cabot Street for a street festival with live music and lots of food, is planned for Saturday, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Homecoming’s popular favorites — the fireworks, Lobster Festival, tours of Hospital Point lighthouse and the 5K road race — are all on the schedule, as well as a few new items.
New this year is Airport Day on Saturday, when Beverly Airport will open for plane tours, a flea market and other events from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Homecoming events draw thousands to Lynch Park — usually more than 2,000 on Lobster Festival day alone, said Bruce Doig, homecoming committee president. The 5K road race, scheduled for Thursday this year, usually has more than 600 runners.
Doig, who has been involved with homecoming for 11 years, said his favorite part of the festival is the recreation department’s annual lip-synch contest — especially because his own children participate.
It’s great to see families coming together and having fun, he said.
“A lot of people plan their family vacations around homecoming, so they can be there,” Doig said. “I get calls asking when it will be (months in advance).”
The homecoming committee is looking ahead to the festival’s 50th anniversary in two years, and it is already seeking ideas and volunteers, Doig said.
“We’d like to make the 50th annual (homecoming) a really big event,” he said.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.
IF YOU GO
What: 48th annual Beverly Homecoming
When: Aug. 2 through Aug. 11
How: For full schedule of events, see www.beverlyhomecoming.com
Favorites: 5K road race on Aug. 1; lighthouse tours Aug. 4 and 5; Lobster Festival Aug. 7; fireworks Aug. 11