BEVERLY — Organizers are planning to hold a shortened version of Beverly Homecoming this summer, reducing it from a 10-day event to five days.

The 56th annual Homecoming is scheduled to begin with the lobster festival on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and end with fireworks on Sunday, Aug. 8. What happens in between has yet to be determined, Beverly Homecoming president Medley Long said.

Long said the decision to shorten Homecoming actually had nothing to do with COVID-19. He said organizers have been considering the move for awhile in order to pack events into fewer days to make it "feel like a festival."

"I think it would be fun to just have more solid events happening simultaneously throughout the city," he said.

Long noted that all plans are subject to change and whatever pandemic restrictions might be in place in August.

Beverly Homecoming, which began in 1966, has traditionally had about 80 events spread over 10 days. But Long said only two of those events — the lobster festival and fireworks — are actually run by the nonprofit Beverly Homecoming organization. The other events are put on by the city or other organizations, such as the Homecoming Race by the YMCA and Senior Day by the Beverly Council on Aging.

Long said some people assume that Beverly Homecoming is run by the city and is taxpayer-funded, but that is not the case. Homecoming is run by volunteers and relies on donations and revenue from its most popular event, the lobster festival. Homecoming costs about $80,000 per year to run, with the fireworks by far the biggest expense, Long said.

"The lobster festival essentially raises enough money to put on the fireworks the following Sunday," he said. "If the lobster fest is a rainout we can't sell any lobster or hot dogs or chicken or booths to vendors. We're continuously trying to raise funds."

Long said donations have been stronger than usual this year.

"I don't know if it's because of COVID or because people don't want to see an institutional event fade away, but we've been receiving lots of donations this year from people who have donated in the past," he said. "I think people are just very excited at the thought that we might be able to have a normal August."

Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer can go to www.beverlyhomecoming.org

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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