NEWBURYPORT — If the huge volume of traffic flowing into this seaport town and the number of blue-and-white flags waving on front porches over the last few days are indicators of the crowds the reborn Yankee Homecoming will attract this week, the 63-year-old festival will be a major success.
“The Yankee Homecoming Committee is proud to be at the forefront of resuming normalcy,” wrote YHC President Dennis Palazzo.
The first events kicked off last weekend with the popular BrewFest featuring more than 20 brewers, love music and food trucks. Art on the Bartlett Mall, sponsored by Bennett and Company, Saturday and Sunday, featured 60 artists from New England and New Jersey.
People enjoyed Olde Fashioned Sunday, sponsored by Newburyport Dunkin’ Donuts. And children of all ages gathered on the new Clipper City Rail Trail extension on March’s Hill for chalk drawings.
“To say it has been a monumental task to make this happen would be an understatement,” Palazzo wrote. “Given the short amount of time we have had for planning, the YHC Board, General Chairperson Jill Ramsdell, and all our wonderful volunteers are working as diligently as possible to make every event as full as it was pre-pandemic.”
The only events not being held this year are Family Day at Maudslay, the children’s talent show, and the nursing home concerts. The annual road race has been limited to 5K because of logistical problems.
Rebuilding Yankee Homecoming this year on short notice after shutting down last year must have felt much like the original organizers did. In 1958, Yankee Homecomings sprang up all over New England as promotions to attract tourists and former residents back to the economically depressed region.
Most of the city’s factories and mills had closed, along with many downtown businesses. The prospect of “urban renewal” loomed largely and threatened to demolish the downtown to make room for malls.
Newburyport, whose first chair was George Cashman, was the last town to hold a Yankee Homecoming. Ironically, it is the only town or city that still hosts the annual event.
Cashman chose Aug. 4, the birthday of the Coast Guard, to be the date of the celebration. Every year, Yankee Homecoming recognizes the Coast Guard for its contributions to the community. The annual Coast Guard open house will happen from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Other events this week include the Market Square Day Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. It will feature unique, handmade items from artisans from across New England.
On Wednesday, the Newburyport Knights of Columbus will sponsor an American Red Cross blood drive at the Elks Lodge, 25 Low St., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At 4 p.m., Atria Senior Living will sponsor Generations of Giving at the Senior Community Center at 331 High St. The honorees are Nancy Burke, George Burtch, Spencer Gray, and Sophia Navarro.
At 6 p.m., the Newburyport Lions Club will host the Bed Race on Federal Street. Registration is $30 per bed and proceeds benefit local charities. To learn more, contact Frank Bertolino at 978-270-0365 or visit: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Aug. 7, there will be a family scavenger hunt, the competitive cornhole tournament, and a road rally, as well as fireworks at 9:15 p.m. On Aug. 8, the parade will roll down High Street beginning at noon.
The popular fireworks display will take place over the Merrimack River starting at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, and the annual parade will start at noon on High Street.
For more information on Yankee Homecoming and to see the full list of local sponsors, visit: yankeehomecoming.com.