EVENTS: Athletes, musicians, artists and comedians flocking to Salem this weekend

There’s something for everyone this weekend in Salem. 

With events ranging from lounging and listening to music to a high-octane athletic competition, this weekend’s calendar is stacked with art, performances and gatherings for all ages.

Here’s your guide to what’s happening in Salem this weekend, from Friday, July 21, through Sunday, July 23.


Athletes from around the world will be in Salem this weekend for the Ironman 70.3 competition, which starts at Riverfront Park at 6 a.m. Sunday.

The racecourse is 70 miles long, and includes a 1.2 mile swim in the Willamette River, a 56 mile bike race and a 13.1 mile run through Minto-Brown Island Park.

Registration to compete is closed, but the event site has information about the best places to watch athletes and a tracking app for individual people competing.

The competition will bring road closures along River Road South, from Riverfront Park toward the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. There will be signs to warn drivers.

Salem Art Fair

This weekend, thousands of people will flock to Bush’s Pasture Park to enjoy more art than ever at the annual Salem Art Fair.

The event showcases local and regional artists, accompanied by music, food and performances to celebrate art and community.

Over 200 artists were selected from 350 applicants, and work in a variety of mediums including glass, metalwork, wearables, prints and painting.

Art Fair begins Thursday, July 20, with an opening ceremony from 6-9 p.m., then runs Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets are free to children age 12 and under as well as SNAP card holders. Tickets are $5 daily for teenagers 13-17, or $10 for a three day pass; $8 for seniors and veterans, or $15 for a three day pass and $10 for adults or $20 for a three day pass. 

Tickets can be bought online to enter more quickly, or purchased at the entrance with cash or card.  

There will be free parking at South Salem High School, 1910 Church St S.E., Friday through Sunday and at the SAIF Corp. parking lot, 400 High Street S.E., Saturday and Sunday. There will be shuttle buses that will run approximately every 20 minutes going from the parking lots to the main entrance.

For more information, read our event preview here:

Elsinore comedy show and a theater tour

Comedian Matt Rife is coming to the Elsinore Theater on Friday, July 21, bringing a “refreshingly genuine presence along with elevated material that is quick-witted and vulnerable,” according to the Elsinore website.

Rife made his TV debut on MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out,” and has credits on shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “North of the 10.” His TikTok account has over 15 million followers as of Thursday.

An earlier show has sold out, but a 10 p.m. show has been added that still has seats available. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets range from $49.50 to $69.50. Tickets are available online.

The Elsinore is also hosting a tour of the theater’s history, art and architecture.

Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at the theater’s gothic design, artisan stained glass and murals with information about its history. The tour ends with a demonstration of the Mighty Wurlitzer, the largest theater organ in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Elsinore.

The tours are on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.. Tickets are $15 and are available online or at the door.

The Elsinore is located downtown, at 170 High St. S.E.

Punk rock, ska and organic food

The third MIG fest is coming to Salem this Saturday, treating attendees to an afternoon of punk rock, ska jams and organic food.

The lineup includes a range of West Coast performers, and is headlined by MONKEY, a California ska, rock and reggae group.

The festival is at the Minto Island Growers farm, located at 3394 Brown Island Rd. Doors open at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, and the music goes until 8 p.m.

Food will be provided by the farm’s food cart, including pizza, snacks, ice cream and drinks.

This year, the capacity for the festival is 275. There were around 75 tickets left as of Wednesday, organizers said. Tickets are available online, and are free for kids under 4, $15 for ages 5-12 and $20 for people over 13. Organizers recommend buying them online in advance to secure a spot, but said there may be some available at the door.

Attendees can bring a blanket, cushion or low-backed and low-to-the-ground chair. Shade will be limited, so sunscreen is recommended. 

For details on the lineup and how the festival got started, see our preview here:

Hear a pop-up reading

It’s Theatre 33’s 10th New Play Summer Festival, and this Saturday and Sunday there will be a pop-up reading of “The Great Bub” by Nora Douglass. The play development company is in residence at Willamette University.

In the story, Bob, Dev and Louis, three high school friends eager to go off to the Vietnam War in 1968 enlist together on the day of graduation. The story follows the family, pets and nemesis they leave behind in their hometown, and the grief when only one boy comes home.

The first reading, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, will be at the Capitol Auto Pavilion at 783 Auto Group Ave N.E.

The second reading, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, will be at the M. Lee Pelton Theatre at Willamette University, 900 State St.

Theatre 33 is a nonprofit, and tickets are free with suggested donations of $5 for students and $15 for adults. Reservations are available online.

Andean Music at Salem Public Library

Musician Alex Llumiquinga will perform Andean music, on the charango, a stringed instrument similar to a lute, in a free performance at the Salem Public Library.

The performance is Saturday, July 22, from 1-2 p.m., and includes a traditional dance performance. Andean culture comes from the indigenous peoples of the Andes mountains region in South America, which includes Chile and Peru.

The show will be at the Loucks Auditorium, 585 Liberty St. S.E.

Drag shows and fundraisers

Salem’s Infinity Room is hosting several drag shows this weekend with a range of times and performers.

Saturday, July 22, from 12:30-2 p.m., there will be a Makeup & Mimosas Drag Brunch with host RiRi Caliente. Tickets are $12, and are available online. The show is for people over 16.

Saturday evening, queens Nicole Onoscopi and Saint Syndrome are hosting an evening of live music, comedy and drag. Tickets are $15, and are available online. There will be two shows, one at 7 p.m. for people over 16 and another at 9:30 p.m. for people over 21.

The Infinity Room is located downtown, at 210 Liberty St. S.E. #150.

Cherry City Roller Derby is hosting an evening of drag performances and skating Saturday night.

The event is for people over 21. Tickets are $25, and include skate rentals and protective gear. Proceeds go toward the league’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity projects and local charities.

The event will be from 7-11 p.m., at 1335 Madison St. N.E.

Family fun at Northgate

Fun Fridays returns Friday, July 21, at Northgate Park, 3575 Fairhaven Ave. N.E.

The free event is put on by local family neighborhood councils and includes activities for kids, dinner, music, games, giveaways and information about local resources for families.

Friday’s event runs 4-7:30 p.m. and is focused on safety, back to school, kindergarten readiness, literacy and gardening.

Art shows in Salem

If you’re looking to see some art on display this weekend, check out our roundup of gallery exhibitions throughout the city this month:

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.