Yankee Homecoming’s week-long slate of free events gets better every year, and this year promises to be no exception. From the kick-off Brewfest on July 26 to some very special guests making their first appearance in the 57th annual parade, this winner of the 2014 BONS award for Summer Festival really does have something for everyone—and most everything is free!
The theme of the event this summer is “Volunteer – YOU Make the Difference,” and certainly that is the case at Yankee Homecoming, where more than 150 people donate their time to make the festival a success. Read on for some highlights and insider tips from Michael Volpone, general chair for the event.
Ticket sales have been brisk (and will likely sell out prior to the event) for this outdoor celebration of craft brewing. Twenty-two breweries spanning the country—from hometown faves like Newburyport Brewing and Riverwalk to Oskar Blues out of Colorado—will be serving up suds to a soundtrack of music provided by Salisbury-based band Animals and Shapes.
Olde Fashioned Sunday
Load up on penny candy and Moxie soda at Shirley’s General Store, and then try your hand at the ring toss and other games that recall an earlier era. Kids will love the free jumpy house and the Roaming Railroad, while adults may want to check out the art show across the park. Live entertainment includes music, karaoke, a pet show, and even a family-friendly wrestling match. July 27, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Market Square Day
Downtown will be hopping with live performances daily throughout the week on three stages, featuring everything from Tokyo Joe’s Demo Team displaying world-class karate moves to the funky vibe of the Soul Revival Orchestra. On Tuesday, a juried crafts fair showcases some of the most talented artisans in New England.
Classic rockers Steel Fingers kick off seven nights of live music at Waterfront Park, including a country chanteuse, an Irish fiddle aficionado, and the very popular Beatles tribute band, Beatlejuice. Pack a picnic and plan to arrive by 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. shows, in order to score a good spot to spread your blanket.
Lighted Boat Parade
Returning in honor of Newburyport’s 250th anniversary, participants are invited to decorate anything that floats—whether a paddleboard, a kayak, or a yacht—and join the parade down the Merrimack River from Amesbury to beyond Waterfront Park. A $20 registration fee benefits the Yankee Homecoming Committee and includes two T-shirts. Landlubbers can enjoy the festive display from anywhere along the river. August 1 at 8:30 p.m.
Last year, organizers raised about $25,000 to put on a display that is unrivaled outside of Boston. This year, in honor of Newburyport’s 250th anniversary, organizers hope to go even bigger. The display can be seen all over town, but if you don’t mind lots of noise (and occasional falling debris) head to Cashman Park, where the rockets are launched and explode right overhead. Spectacular unobstructed views can also be had from Gillis Bridge, which spans the Merrimack River across to neighboring Salisbury. August 2 at 9:15 p.m.
Yankee Homecoming Parade
Guests of honor Mickey and Minnie Mouse are expected to join the parade down High Street. Since it’s an election year, expect more than the average number of politicians shaking hands, as well as marching bands, antique cars, fire trucks, and likely the largest number of floats the parade has seen in years. This year, parade organizers are working with the Greater Newburyport Mothers and Families Club to offer a “siren-free” zone from Fruit Street to Federal Street, so even the littlest spectators can enjoy the fire trucks and police cars. August 3 at 12:15 p.m.
Events run from July 26 through August 3. For details and a complete schedule, visit http://yankeehomecoming.com