Keizer’s biggest community event kicks off Thursday night at the Keizerfest tent at the Lions Club on Cherry Avenue.

Total Eclipse of the Heart, the 2017 Keizer Iris Festival is officially held all month long in May, but the big events started last weekend and continue through Sunday, May 21.

This year’s theme was chosen to mark the total solar eclipse that will be visible in Keizer on Aug. 21.

The public is invited to many festival activities, and there is something for everyone. The kick-off party is Thursday in the Keizerfest tent starting at 5 p.m. Cost is $8 for a barbecue dinner prepared by Adam’s Rib Smoke House. Local favorites The FlexTones will entertain from the main stage from 7 to 10 p.m.

All the carnival rides, the Midway and vendors along with beer and wine will be open on Friday, May 19. That day, the Iris Festival Golf Tournament takes place at McNary Golf Club. The Senior Talent Showcase will take place on the main stage starting at noon; there will be a $5 lunch buffet.

Runners and parade fans get their rewards on Saturday. Pre-parade 5K and 3K runs will take a route up and down River Road. The Valley Credit Service Iris Festival Parade will start at 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, May 20, is also Lemonade Day in Keizer-Salem. The national event is designed to teach kids about business by planning and running their own lemonade stand. There will be many lemonade stands throughout Keizer that day including a pod of them at the entrance to the Keizerfest tent; the stands will operate from about 10 a.m. to mid-afternoon.

Live music will fill Keizerfest Friday and Saturday.

A marathon, a half-marathon and a 10K run are all on the bill for Sunday morning.

While all that is going on Schreiner’s Iris Gardens on Quinaby Road, just north of Keizer, will be fully abloom. The gardens attract iris lovers as well as photographers and artists. Weather forecasts for festival weekend are good which should make for a wonderful Iris Festival once again in the Iris Capital of the World.

—LAZ