Homecoming time

Born and raised in Hackney, Brad Webb, 43, remembers being just a young boy and getting a thrill out of seeing the banner of the Beverly-Waterford Homecoming Parade make its way down the street every summer.

Now Webb, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is in his third year as the American Legion Post 389 commander, and is still excited for it to come around once again.

The 68th annual Beverly-Waterford Homecoming, sponsored by the American Legion family, kicks off Thursday and runs through Saturday night with free admission.

“Mostly it’s just a three-day affair with the goal of being able to come back to family and friends and have a good time,” said Steven Wainwright, past commander of American Legion Post 389 and coordinator of the event. “People living far from home can come back and really enjoy the area again.”

The event begins with the traditional parade Thursday evening at 6:30, which kicks off from Waterford Elementary School and winds its way to Beverly to end in front of Dodge Park.

Beverly residents Bob and Donna Brooker, owners of Muskingum Valley Hardware, will serve as this year’s honorary parade marshals.

Immediately following is live music at the park pavilion by Waterford father-daughter duo Mike and Sienna Stocky, ending at 10 p.m. with the first $100 gift certificate raffle.

Also in the midst of the entertainment are performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. by the Gym Factory cheerleaders.

“If the weather’s good, it’s always really well-attended, but it’s just a chance for mom to bring the little kids and for kids to get to ride without having to go all the way to King’s Island,” Wainwright said.

Friday, a garden tractor pull will kick off the evening on the midway at 6 p.m., followed by the FFA three-weight class pull at seven.

Live music at the park pavilion at 8 p.m. from Steven and Beverly Pottmeyer will round off Friday evening.

Besides the regularly scheduled tractor pulls and music, Wainwright said there is still all the traditional carnival-like experiences.

“Every night there’s plenty of games, food, prizes and bingo, and each night we’re giving out those $100 gift certificates,” he said.

Webb said the addition of the garden tractor pulls is a unique feature to this year’s homecoming.

“It’s neat because it’s different, because it’s right on the street on asphalt, and they don’t do that in many places around the country,” Webb said. “It really brings in a big crowd.”

Saturday, the traditional antique tractor show will kick off at 4:30 p.m., followed by musical entertainment again at the park pavilion at 8 p.m. by Sam Clark with Orin Palmer & Sons.

At the end of the evening, prize-winners of the raffle consisting of a wealth of cash and goodies from local merchants will be announced at 11 to finish off the night.

“It’s been going strong for 68 years, and it’s great for both communities,” Webb said. “It really brings a lot of people out of their houses that haven’t seen each other in a long time to eat some great food and to enjoy great camaraderie.”

Dunk-tanks, old-time games, familiar and new carnival rides will all be around rain or shine, including plenty of food.

“We have wonderful food booths that feature all home-baked and homemade foods,” Wainwright said. “Everything from chicken and noodles to ice cream will be there.”

Raffle tickets will be sold at the fair at six for $5, and any prize-winners do not need to be present to win.

Wainwright said the homecoming event is the legion’s big fundraiser, as the proceeds go both back into the community and toward the big Independence Day fireworks show.

“We really need all the community support we can get, so it’s really neat that a community our size can put on an event of this size,” he said.

The Beverly-Waterford Homecoming was founded in 1946 by World War II veterans returning home after the conclusion of the war as a way for families to reunite and enjoy their hometown communities again.

Webb said without the support of the entire legion family-The American Legion, Auxiliary, Legions Riders and Sons of the Legion-the event would never be possible.

“I’ve been here all my life, and it’s something you don’t miss,” Webb said.