EVENTS: Watch weavers, buy books, eat tacos

With weaving demonstrations, seasonal local markets and live shows, there’s plenty to do in Salem this week.

Here’s what’s happening for the week starting Thursday, May 2. 

Sheep to Shawl 

Willamette Heritage Center’s 37th Sheep to Shawl Festival runs Saturday, May 4, opening the campus of the former Thomas Kay Woolen Mill. The historic mill opened in 1889 and at its peak employed one in five Salemites who worked outside of farms.

The event is free and runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1313 Mill St. S.E. As the name suggests, it spotlights the process of turning wool into clothing, with live sheep-shearing, tours of the mill highlighting the cleaning process and fiber artists on-site spinning, weaving and crocheting. There will also be live music and duck races.

Saturday is also Salem’s public archaeology day, when the archaeological dig on the northwest side of the heritage center will be open for public viewing and activities. Archaeologists are continuing their work digging on the heritage center campus and neighboring Willamette University for artifacts and evidence of the Oregon Indian Mission Manual Labor School.

Taco Fest

Taco Fest comes to Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 4. 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.

Spring Book Sale

Starting Thursday, Friends of Salem Public Library will have their spring sale of discounted books, CDs and DVDs. The book sales support various library programs, like the Summer Reading Program, Teen Scene and children’s activities.

The sale will be Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, fill a provided bag and take it home for $4. The sale will be in Anderson Room A&B at the library, 585 Liberty St. S.E. 

Live theater and performance

Salem’s Historic Grand, 187 High St. N.E.

On Thursday, Polyrhythmics will bring Seattle’s underground funk scene to the Grand, featuring “impossibly tight grooves with bold brass and hypnotic percussion that showcased elements of R&B, progressive jazz, and Afrobeat which defined the instrumental group’s early era sound,” according to an event description.

Tickets for the all ages show are $25, and are available online. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. showtime.

Salem’s Gabriel Cox Band will perform their new album, “The Rockdown,” for the first time on Friday. The all ages show includes free photos with the band and merch signings.

Tickets are $20, and are available online. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. showtime.

Life During Wartime, a Talking Heads tribute band, will join Hiding from Love, a Portland  Depeche Mode tribute, for a show on Saturday.

Doors open at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 the day of the show. 

The Elsinore Theatre, 170 High St. S.E.

Adam Ant, known for 1980s hits with band Adam and the Ants, will take the Elsinore stage on Friday. He’s continued his solo music career since the band split in the early 80s. Ant will be joined by special guest The English Beat.

Doors open at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show. Tickets start at $39, and are available online.

The 2024 Mrs. Oregon America and Miss Oregon for America Strong Pageant will be at the Elsinore on Saturday, a competition for the chance to represent Oregon at the August pageant  in Las Vegas. Tickets start at $29.

Infinity Room, 210 Liberty St. S.E. #150

There will be an all ages music and poetry open mic night from 7-10 p.m. Thursday at Infinity Room. Sets are 10 minutes or three songs each.

Sign-up starts in-person at 6:30 p.m., and performers are asked to email [email protected] if they need any special equipment or accommodations. There is no cover charge, but audience members and performers must purchase at least two food or drink items.

On Saturday, two Salem metal bands, Death Thrall and Wizard of the Woods, will perform with Eugene’s Gamma Knife. Doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show, which will become 21+ only at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.

Other venues

Willamette Master Chorus will play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with an orchestra and soloists, with 3 p.m. shows on Saturday and Sunday at Willamette University’s Hudson Hall, 900 State St. Tickets are $27 and available online.


Salem Community Markets will bring local produce, food and products to various places throughout the city this week. Salem’s Saturday Market opened for the season in March, but smaller markets around the city are now opening.

The Thursday West Salem Farmers Market will be from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at 1260 Edgewater St. N.W.

The Saturday Market will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at 865 Marion St. N.E.

The Monday Hospital Market will be 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Salem Hospital’s campus, 875 Oak St., between building A & C.

On Wednesday, May 8, the Chemeketa Community College Agricultural Building market opens. The market is held weekly from 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays, at the corner of Northeast 45th Avenue and Fire Protection Way. 

The Salem Underground Market meets on Saturday from 3 – 7 p.m. at Blast Off Vintage, 860 High St. N.E.

Marion County Master Gardeners will sell hanging baskets, vegetables, flowers and more than 10,000 plants at its sale, which also features gardening tips and demonstrations. It will be at the Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center, 2330 17th St. N.E. on Friday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, the Southern Oregon Flea Market will bring over 300 tables to shop from between 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center. Admission is $2, parking is $5 and kids 12 and under get in free.

All ages dance

There will be a May Day Dance at Center 50+ featuring the Keizer Big Band. All ages are welcome, and there will be light refreshments. The dance goes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $10. Center 50+ is located at 2615 Portland Road N.E.

At the carousel

On Saturday, there will be a 79th Wedding anniversary celebration for Kate and Francis, at the Hazel Patton Riverfront Carousel, 101 Front St. S.E. Their love story inspired one of the decorations at the carousel, according to the event description. The first 79 riders will ride the carousel for free, and there will be activity sheets and snacks as supplies last. The carousel will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Sunday, an Alice in Wonderland themed children’s tea party at the carousel will include a guided craft activity and a photo with Alice. There is an 11 a.m. event and a 2 p.m. event. Tickets are $35 per person, and children under 2 get in free. 

Art Walk

From 5-8 p.m., the First Friday monthly art walk will bring local art, pop-up shows and live music to downtown Salem.

Climate vigil

On Friday, a community Climate Vigil across Northeast Court Street from the State Capitol will start at 8 p.m. The event is hosted by Oregon faith communities and nonprofits in an effort to highlight climate change and the human right to a healthy environment.

“Tribal members will bless us, youth speakers will inspire us, and interfaith clergy will lift up our collective moral voices,” the event description says.

Before the vigil, from 6:30 – 8 p.m., enjoy pancakes cooked using solar-powered appliances and apple cider, accompanied by live music by Marilyn Keller in an event organized by Electrify Oregon.

A flyer for a community Climate Vigil on Saturday, May 4 (Courtesy)

Arena Football

Salem’s new football team, the Oregon Blackbears, will play the Billings from Montana on Saturday. The brand new, local indoor Arena Football League team plays on a 50 by 33 yard field, a quarter of the size of a traditional football field, with less stoppage and more action, according to CEO Travelle Gaines who spoke to Salem Reporter in October. Tickets start at $20.

Live theater and performance

Pentacle Theatre’s nursing home comedy “Ripcord” continues with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday.

“A sunny room on an upper floor is prime real estate in the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility, so when the cantankerous Abby is forced to share her quarters with new arrival Marilyn, she has no choice but to get rid of the infuriatingly chipper woman by any means necessary,” the show description says. “A seemingly harmless bet between the old women quickly escalates into a dangerous game of one-upmanship that reveals not just the tenacity of these worthy opponents, but also deeper truths that each would rather remain hidden.” 

The show runs through May 11.

Visit the theater website for showtimes and tickets, which start at $19. The theater is located at 352 52nd Ave. N.W.


The 2nd Friday Céilí, a monthly community dance with instruction and live music, will be on May 10 at the VFW Community Center, 630 Hood St. N.E. 

See our full list of major Salem events through September here.

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify organizational information about the climate vigil, and to add an event flyer.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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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.