Each year the month of May gets busier and more packed with events locally and regionally.

We are smack in the middle of KeizerFEST 2018. KeizerFEST? The Keizer Iris Festival is not dead but it has a new moniker. So many people still call our community’s biggest event by a name it carried when it was a fundraiser for St. Edward Catholic Church—complete with a Keizerfest tent that sold beer and had live entertainment. After the church decided to move away from selling alcohol in such a brash fashion, the Keizer Chamber of Commerce folded it in what was Keizer Days and…poof…the Keizer Iris Festival was born.

The first festival was in the late 1980s after it was decided to market the city as the Iris Capital of the World due to the world-reknown Schreiner’s Iris Gardens just north of the city and Cooley’s Gardens near Silverton (it has been shuttered for a number of years now).

Regardless of the attempts to make the Iris Festival a regional powerhouse, many still called it KeizerFEST and it remained a local, community event.

In the scheme of things, none of that mattters—the residents of Keizer line up for the parade, go to the big white tent with its variety of live entertainment. Some take part in the runs, others visit the iris fields.

The festival is Keizer’s opportunity to put its best foot forward. All the components are there including a recent addition of Lemonade Day on Saturday, May 19.

Lemonade Day, overseen by Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, is a national one-day event designed to teach grade- and middle-school aged children how to be entrepeneurs. There will be a number of lemonade stands sited in front of select River Road businesses.

We are in the middle of the festival which is officially the entire month of May. So far we have had the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, named co-winners for the title of Keizer’s Distinguished Young Woman and honored moms at the annual Keizer  Volunteer Firefighters pancake breakfast.

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate Keizer as a wonderful place to live. KeizerFEST weekend gives people of all ages plenty to enjoy, especially when the weather cooperates.

Whether you mark KeizerFEST by running, smelling, eating, listening or marching, you will be part of a tradition that dates back to the 1940s and the very first parade in the Manbrin Gardens neighborhood of Keizer.

—LAZ