David Quinton and Kristie Sears dance to The Flextones at the kickoff party of KeizerFEST on May 11.
The Valley Credit Service KeizerFEST Parade hits the street Saturday, May 18.
The parade, one of the perennial highlights of the long-running festival, starts at 10:30 a.m. at River Road North and Lockhaven Drive North, then rolls south two miles along River Road through Keizer before ending at Glynbrook Drive.
There will be about 70 entries this time around and last about two hours, said Danielle Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, the organization behind all things KeizerFEST. Attendees might also see more school-themed entries this year. Chamber leaders offered free entries to every school in the Salem-Keizer School District this time around.
“This is the one and only spring parade that happens and we don’t want money to be a barrier to student participation,” Bethell said.
An estimated 25,000 people turn out to watch the parade each year.
Los Dos Hermanos owner Teresa Munoz is grand marshaling the 2019 parade. Munoz has lived in Keizer for almost 40 years and owned the restaurant for 21 of them.
“When the committee sat down to consider who in Keizer would honor the theme and what it embodies, Theresa’s name came to mind instantly,” said Bethell. “Her vibrant and positive attitude is infectious. She fully embraces Keizer and its residents as family.”
Munoz is equally excited to have the honor bestowed upon her.
“It feels great to be honored for the first time in 20 years,” Munoz said. “I was very excited when I found out and I’m so happy that I get a chance to do this.”
The festival will have major impacts on traffic throughout the weekend and especially during the staging of the parade until it reaches its end.
Lockhaven Drive North will be closed to all traffic at 6 a.m. between River Road North and McClure Street North to establish the parade staging area.
River Road North will be closed to all north and southbound traffic starting at 9 a.m. between Lockhaven Drive North to Plymouth Drive Northeast. Prior to the parade and other events beginning, traffic will be allowed to periodically cross River Road at Chemawa Road.
Portions of Cherry Avenue Northeast around the Keizer Lions Club and Keizer Elks Club will be closed from Thursday night to Sunday night to accommodate the main campus of the festival.
Bethell said the chamber is seeking to make KeizerFEST as a whole more inclusive this time around. The kick-off party, which traditionally took place the Thursday night before the parade was bumped back five days and it made room for a Family Night at the main tent.
“Not every family can afford the wristband for carnival rides and food to go with it,” said Bethell said. “If they can forego that and still feel out and about and part of the community, we’re really open to those opportunities.”
On Thursday at the main tent, families will find free games inside the tent and opportunities to check out different video gaming stations provided by Satellite Gaming.
Another big change will be expanded festival hours on Sunday for the first-ever La Familia Day. After the Teen Music Showcase ends, about 3 p.m., several local and regional Latino bands and performers will be highlighted on the main stage.
La Familia Day has been almost two years in the making, but Bethell wants it to be the start of something much bigger going forward.
“The big thing was noticing how many Latino families line River Road during the parade and then not seeing some of those faces in other festival activities,” said Bethell.
For the full listing of events, make sure to keep out an eye for copies of the Keizertimes-produced KeizerFEST Guide or visit www.keizerfest.com.