Save the date for Salem’s 2024 events

Glimpses of sun are becoming more regular, and temperatures are rising for Salem’s outdoor event season.

Though the city of Salem has canceled free movies in the parks and First Friday concerts, other signature Salem events — many of them free and in local parks — are going on as usual.

Here’s a guide to what’s coming to Salem in 2024.

Awesome 3000 – Saturday, April 27

McCullough Stadium/Bush’s Pasture Park

The annual kids’ fun run was resurrected in 2023 after a pandemic hiatus. Now organized by United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, entry proceeds support grants for teachers and schools in the Salem-Keizer School District.

Anyone from toddlers to high school seniors can sign up to run, with a shorter 300-meter race for the littlest racers. Registration is $35 online, and volunteers can sign up to help at the same website.

R. Adem runs in the third-grade girls race at the Awesome 3000 event on Saturday April 29. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Sheep to Shawl – Saturday, May 4

Willamette Heritage Center

Celebrate sheep, wool and fiber arts through a free day of activities for the whole family, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s the 37th year of the festival.

Festival activities include watching sheep shearing, opportunities to visit with animals, and watching blacksmiths and woodworkers, and other artisan fiber work. Learn more online.

There will also be an archaeology open house on site to view the ongoing work to excavate the original foundation of the parsonage building on the northwest side of the heritage center campus.

The Willamette Heritage Center was the scene on Saturday, May 7, 2022 for the 36th Sheep to Shawl event. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Taco Fest – Saturday, May 4

Riverfront Park

Sample tacos from 20 taco trucks and restaurants while enjoying live music, drinks and other entertainment all day. Activities include a bouncy house, face painting, live mural painting and a mobile wreck-it room, according to the event website.

Tickets required, children under 10 free. More information and tickets here.

Salem Service Day – Thursday, June 20

Riverfront Park

This annual city event gives kids a chance to see the city’s biggest rigs up close. Explore fire trucks and public works vehicles, meet police officers and don a hard hat. Free.

Jonathan Escutia, 4, drives a police vehicle at Salem Service Day on Thursday, June 15, 2023 (Eric Schuman/Special to Salem Reporter)

Make Music Day – Friday, June 21

Locations around Salem

The annual day of free music brings performers to restaurants, downtown streets, neighborhoods and parks around Salem. All music is free and open to the public. The global Make Music Day is intended to celebrate the summer solstice.

This year’s schedule for Salem is not yet set, and performers can still apply on the event website.

Rock band “Wire Monkey Mama” performs for onlookers in downtown Salem during Make Music Day on June 21, 2023 (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

World Beat – Friday, June 28-Sunday, June 30

Riverfront Park

Ukraine will be the focus of the annual World Beat Festival, put on by the Salem Multicultural Institute. The weekend features performances, art activities, vendors and food from around the world.

Volunteers and vendors can still sign up online. Tickets required.

Dancers from Salem’s Paradise of Samoa dance troupe at the World Beat Festival at Riverfront Park on June 24, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Fourth of July Spectacular – Thursday, July 4

Oregon State Fairgrounds

A joint city of Salem and Oregon State Fair event will include fireworks, food, music and rides to celebrate America’s birthday. The event runs 3-11 p.m. and is free. More information on the fairgrounds website.

American flags lined the Oregon State Fairgrounds during the Fourth of July Spectacular on July 4, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

MIG Fest – Saturday, July 20

Minto Island Growers

The Salem-grown MIG Fest returns this year, and the punk and ska concert lineup includes rockers from California and the Pacific Northwest. 

The festival, now in its fourth year, will be at Minto Island Growers which will sell food from its food cart, and is open to all ages. This year’s headliners are Bad Cop/ Bad Cop, a feminist punk rock group from Southern California. They’ll be joined by Half Past Two, Sad Snack, Simple Minded Symphony and The Wild Jumps.

Tickets are available online.

The Bandalus on stage at the MIG Fest on July 22, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Ironman – Sunday, July 21

Riverfront Park and Minto Brown Island Park

Hotels in Salem fill up months in advance of Ironman as racers from around the world flock to the 70.3-kilometer triathlon. Riverfront Park is the center of the action, and spectators can gather to watch in the park or along the route. 

Some south Salem streets along the bike route typically close during the event. Learn more on the event website.

Families and supporters of competitors in the 2023 Salem Ironman competition line the banks of the Willamette River in Salem’s Riverfront Park to watch the swimming event. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Hoopla – Tuesday, July 23-Sunday, July 28

Streets surrounding the Oregon State Capitol

The annual 3×3 basketball tournament will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. The event has grown into nearly a week of demonstration games, contests and special events. But the focus of the action, the 3×3 games, still take place Saturday and Sunday. Spectating is free. Watch the Hoopla website for information about registration.

Players at Hoopla were in it to win it on July 29, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Great Oregon Steam Up – July 27-28 and Aug. 3-4

Powerland Heritage Park

This annual celebration of machinery and steam power runs two summer weekends at the Powerland Heritage Park, a collection of museums on a campus in Brooks.

Tickets required. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Powerland website

Rainier Brownfield, 5, at the tractor pull during the Great Oregon Steam-Up at Powerland Heritage Park on Saturday, July 29, 2023 (Eric Schuman/Special to Salem Reporter)

FamilyFest – Saturday, August 3

Riverfront Park

The free annual resource festival, put on by Family Building Blocks, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and draws thousands of people to Riverfront Park. Resources are focused on health and safety needs, with activities for kids and families. Learn more on the Family Building Blocks website.

Picking out the one perfect toy at the Riverfront Family Fest on August 5, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Englewood Forest Festival – Saturday, Aug. 10

Englewood Park

A free festival celebrating nature, art and culture in one of Salem’s historic neighborhood parks. Englewood Forest Festival includes music and dance performances, workshops to learn about the park environment and other activities for people of all ages. 

Performer, food truck, artist, author and nonprofit applications are being accepted here.

A lucky dad receives a carefully crafted bracelet made especially for him at the Englewood Forest Festival on Aug. 12, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Salem Art Fair & Festival – Friday, Sept. 13-Sunday, Sept. 15

Bush’s Pasture Park

The annual showcase of artists from Salem, the northwest and the U.S. has been moved to September from its traditional July date due to rising temperatures in the summer. The Salem Art Association puts on the weekend-long event, which includes artist booths, live entertainment and more. 

Tickets required. Artists and other participants can apply now.

The 2023 Salem Art Fair & Festival (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Punx in the Park – Saturday, Sept. 14

Marion Square Park 

A resource fair for youth combines with a day of punk music for a dynamic event open to all ages. The event includes a style station, free clothes for youth, access to older punk mentors and a battle vest craft station.

Free, with more information on the Punx With Purpose website. 

The Doug Furys on stage at Punx in the Park on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Pride in the Park – Saturday, Sept. 21

Riverfront Park

Salem’s Capital Pride puts on their annual LGBTQ+ pride festival outside the traditional month of June so as not to compete with larger cities’ events. Organizers also want to encourage celebrations of pride year-round. The event includes drag performances, vendors, a beer garden and community resources.

Free. Applications open for sponsors, vendors and entertainment.

Salem Pride in the Park on Aug. 26, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

Viva Salem – Saturday, Sept. 28

Riverfront Park

It’s the city of Salem’s second year putting on a celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month. The event includes cultural performances, food and drink and other activities and encourages all of Salem to celebrate Hispanic culture and heritage. Free.

A Charro shows his rope skills on stage during the Viva Salem Festival at Riverfront Park on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Laura Tesler/Special to the Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.