Beacon’s Community Cookout Returns

Event set for July 24 after last year’s cancellation

After missing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beacon’s Annual Cookout returns to South Avenue Park on July 24, with a rain date of July 25. The planners of the event, which has been taking place every summer for over 30 years, just got the go-ahead from the city last week.

“Usually we’re prepping for six to eight months beforehand,” said Berkley “Boom” Lunsford, one of the organizers. “This one is real short notice.”

Still, Lunsford is grateful that the event will be taking place at all. He remembers playing basketball at the cookout when he was a kid. “But in the past few years, the people who started it passed it down to the younger generation, and we’ve been getting more and more people to come every year,” he said. Attendance usually is upward of 500 people. 

“It’s a day for community, love, friendship, just a good time,” he said. The event usually begins with setup around 8:30 am — “by 10 a.m. we’re cooking” — and goes late into the night with dancing, eating and old friends catching up. “There are people from Beacon who have moved away who come back to Beacon just for that day,” said Lunsford, who noted that the event is open to all. “It’s really like a Beacon reunion.”

With so little time to plan, the organizers are looking for businesses and members of the community to donate hotdogs, hamburgers, paper plates, ice, sodas, condiments, side dishes and other items. “Right now we really do need everything,” said Lunsford. 

Those interested in donating can contact Lunsford through the Beacon Annual Cookout community page on Facebook (bit.ly/beacon-cookout).

After COVID, Lunsford said that the Beacon community needs a day out to gather and reconnect more than ever. 

“We haven’t been outside for like a year and a half,” he said. “And there’s a lot of people that didn’t make it through the pandemic. We’ve got to think about them.”

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