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When Iris eyes are smiling

At top, Greg and Gordon Wentzel affix the KeizerFEST banner atop the tent at Keizer Station in preparation for the Iris Festival. At right, Ray Schreiner marks flowers at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

The Iris Festival’s biggest weekend is here.

The Keizertimes published the Official Iris Festival Guide and mailed it to 12,000 Keizer homes. You can also pick it up on the festival grounds.
But here’s a quick glimpse at some of the festival’s biggest events:

• The Valley Credit Service Iris Festival parade is at 10:30 a.m. along River Road between Lockhaven Drive and Plymouth Drive. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Iris Festival, but the parade tradition stretches back decades.

Evelyn Hoxsey, who started the first parade in Keizer in 1945 with the Manbrin Kids Parade, is the grand marshal. Her original parade traveled down Manbrin Drive to Shoreline Drive and was comprised of kids and their pets, festooned bikes, toy wagons and ended with a parade.

• The KeizerFEST Tent is back at Keizer Station along with the Funtastic Carnival. Bands are performing Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon in the big tent. Beer and food will be available, along with vino from several local wineries.

• Keizer Police will have extra officers on the street this weekend looking for impaired drivers.

• Temporary street closures are planned for the annual Iris Festival Parade on Saturday, May 19.

Lockhaven Drive North will close to all traffic between River Road N. and McClure Street N. starting at 6:30 a.m. for parade staging.

Starting at 9 a.m. River Road will close from Plymouth Drive to Lockhaven Drive. Northbound traffic will divert to Cherry Avenue NE via Plymouth Drive NE, while southbound traffic will divert eastbound on Lockhaven Drive NE. It is expected that River Road will begin to re-open at 12:30 p.m. as the parade proceeds.