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Keizer’s big weekend

Keizer’s biggest community event—the Iris Festival—is happening now with the main attractions coming this weekend.

The big story for this year is the move of the KeizerFEST grounds from Keizer Station to the Keizer Lions Club-Cherry Avenue area. Development at the shopping complex next to the freeway forced the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, organizers of the festival, to find a new home.

The KeizerFEST tent is already up and ready to invite the region under its tarp to enjoy music, food and socializing. The Iris Festival tent is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s like a reunion, friends seeing friends they haven’t seen for a while.  It’s a good time for Keizer to collectively let down its hair and celebrate all that is good about our community.

The move to the new location necessitates the closing of Cherry Avenue N.E. beteween Alder Drive and Manbrin Drive. Cherry Avenue wll be closed through Sunday night (the carnival rides and midway will be set up in the street itself). Drivers will need to see detour signs; hopefully the closure of Cherry Avenue will be met with a shrug rather than a rant.

The festival is offering a variety of entertainment, contests and activities for every member of the family. Live music on the main stage and on the community stage promise to showcase some our best local talent.

The cornerstone of the festival is, of course, the parade.  At 10:30 Saturday morning more than 100 entries will combine to form one of the state’s largest parades: bands, floats, dancers, dignitaries, horses—the works. The grand marshall this year is Keizerite Robert L. Robison, who received two Purple Heart medals at a ceremony earlier this year for his service in the Korean War.

For more than 25 years the event has punctuated the city’s identity as the Iris Capital of the World. Fans of the bearded iris can visit Schreiner’s Iris Gardens on Quinaby Road, just north of Keizer, which has a full schedule of events of their own through June 1.

The chair of this year’s festival, City Councilor Joe Egli, has run a tight organization and seen that all the details  have been looked after. Whether the festival has found a new permanent home on Cherry Avenue remains to be seen. The Chamber and the city’s Festival and Events Committee should develop a workable plan to turn the five-acre plot on th north side of the Volcanoes Stadium as a long-term home for the Iris Festival. There would be no street closures and it would again be seen by thousands of vehicles a day passing on the freeway. Until then we wll enjoy the festival as it returns to central Keizer.