Chamber pulls plug on KeizerFEST 2.0

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce was planning to request usage of Keizer Rapids Park to host a scaled down version of its annual KeizerFEST, but the organization pulled the plug in the hours before the Keizer City Council took up the issue. 

“We’re confident that we can do it with social distancing, that we can wear masks and that we can monitor it like other events happening in other cities. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should,” said Jonathan Thompson, past president of the Chamber, at a council meeting Monday, Aug. 17. “The consequences of even a minor slip up are just too great.”

The Chamber hoped to use the park for KeizerFEST 2.0, a two-day event in September featuring concerts, a car show and vendor area. It submitted a detailed request to the council and promised to deliver an Oregon Health Authority-approved plan for meeting guidelines in place for large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

By the time of the meeting, no COVID plan had been submitted. 

When asked by Councilor Roland Herrera whether the Chamber had gotten the okay from health authorities to pursue a large gathering, Thompson dodged. 

“We didn’t want to go to the county without getting permission from the city to use the park first,” Thompson said, adding that Chamber officials had been working with Marion County Public Health to compose the COVID plan. “We’re confident our plan would have met with the current guidelines.”

The Chamber would continue working on efforts made to support small businesses “that are in no way out of the woods yet,” he said. 

In addition to everyday operations, the Chamber will refocus on its annual Giving Basket Program that supports local families in need 

“The need is going to be nothing like we’ve ever seen judging by the conversations we are having with school counselors,” Thompson said.