What to do in Salem over Memorial Day weekend: cat rappers, Broadway and a state veteran ceremony

There is a solid lineup up of events this Memorial Day weekend in Salem, from a cat adoption event featuring a social media influencer who raps about cats, to a number of stand-up comedy acts and live performances.

Here’s the lineup of Salem events for the week from Thursday, May 23, to Wednesday, May 29. Browse all of Salem Reporter’s events coverage here.

Memorial Day 

A statewide Memorial Day celebration will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, May 27, at the Oregon World War II Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol grounds. The memorial is near the intersection of Northeast Court and Cottage streets. The celebration is put on by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and will be livestreamed on Facebook for those unable to attend.  

Soap box derby

For the first time in five years, Bush’s Pasture Park will host soap box derby races.

The Best in the West Classic AA Rally Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, has drawn in at least 25 racers from Oregon, Washington and California, seeking glory on the West Coast’s only official soap box derby track.

It’s free to watch, and races will start around 11 a.m. and run until around 5 p.m. both days. The park is located at 890 Mission St. S.E.

The race is open to any child over 7. Racers should show up around 8 a.m. Saturday for registration, and there are a limited amount of loaner cars available for no additional cost. The registration fee is $35, according to their website.

Theater and live performances

“Ape” by Dano Madden — a play about a middle-aged man struggling to become a parent who finds himself haunted by the spirit of his dead mother — debuts on Thursday, May 23 with shows through Sunday, June 2. The performance will take place at the M. Lee Pelton Playhouse on the Willamette University Campus at 900 State Street. 

It’s the first play of Theatre 33’s summer festival. The new play production company works with Northwest playwrights to mount productions of shows in development, often reworking the play as it’s rehearsed.

The entrance fee is donation based, and organizers recommend a $15 donation per person to help support the 2024 Theatre 33’s Summer Festival. The performance begins at 7 p.m. every evening with the exception of Sundays, when it begins at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be reserved on the Willamette University website. Read more about the Theatre 33 season here:

Next weekend, Theatre 33 will mount a pop-up reading of another new play,at the Rogers Rehearsal Hall on campus. “Group: Or Marlene is Dead” is a comedy set in modern day Portland about a group of parents partaking in a parenthood class. 

The first performance on Saturday June 1 begins at 2 p.m., and the second, on Sunday, June 2, begins at 7 p.m. Tickets can be reserved on the Willamette University website

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

In honor of nearly a century of live performance and theater in Salem, the Elsinore is hosting a unique event on Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. where theater lovers can watch classic Buster Keaton comedies from the 1920s accompanied by a live organ. 

The two films include “Sherlock Jr.” and “One Week.” The event costs $15 and doors open at 1 p.m.. Tickets can be purchased here

The Grand Theatre, 191 High St. N.E.

There are two live performances at the Grand Theatre this weekend, both on Saturday, May 25. “Broadway Our Way” is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is a Broadway double feature with music from a number of well known performances including “The Sound of Music,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserablés,” and more. Doors open at 12 p.m. 

The performance costs $25 and is open to all ages. Tickets are available here.  

At 7:30 p.m., the Oregon Opry takes the stage with Josh Cole Band, Syco Billy’s String Band, and The Severin Sisters until 10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 online and $20 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

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

The Infinity Room has an ample lineup of events for the longer weekend.

A sex and relationship-themed comedy routine, “Sexy Talk,” starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23. Tickets cost $15. The show is open to stand-up lovers who are 21 or older. Doors open at 7 p.m.

On Friday, May 24, there’s the Electric Baguette Improv Comedy show which is open to all ages and costs $10. Doors open at 6:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m. Find tickets here

There is a third comedy routine on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. featuring Tyler Boehn, a nationally recognized vocal percussionist turned stand-up comedian from Portland. The show is 21 and older, and doors open at 9 p.m. Get tickets here

“Paint and Laugh: Painting With a Comedic Twist” runs Saturday, May 25 at 7 p.m. “Unleash your inner Bob Ross as our talented comedians guide you step-by-step through creating your next work of art,” the event description says. Supplies provided. Tickets start at $15 to watch, or $25 to paint along.

Kittens and rap

The Kitten Palooza Adoption Event, Fundraiser and Food Drive is coming to Keizer for an afternoon of “cat rap” and adoptable kittens. The event will take place on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Salem Friends of Felines animal shelter, 4157 Cherry Ave. in Keizer.

The Kitten Palooza is put on by Friends of Felines and iAmMoshow the “cat rapper,” a popular social media influencer who raps about cats. Organizers said parking will be limited and encourage cat lovers to carpool or use public transportation. 

Chelsey Marks, executive director of Salem Friends of Felines and a certified veterinary technician, holds kitten Roo before her spay surgery at the shelter on Wednesday, Aug. 3 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Shopping and markets

On Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the Salem Public Market at 1240 Rural Avenue S.E.

Salem Community Markets will bring local produce, food and products to various places throughout the city this week. 

The Wednesday Chemeketa Market runs from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. and is held at the Chemeketa Community College Agricultural Hub at 4000 Lancaster Drive N.E. 

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.


A new independent film shot in Ashland and Medford featuring an all-local Oregon cast will have its final screening Thursday at 6:30 p.m. 

“Above the Trees” is about a man who is assaulted and put into a serious coma. His best friend, a local boxer, is charged for the crime. The story follows five characters who are all linked to the events as a criminal trial proceeds in Jackson County.

Art shows

See what art exhibits are on display this month here:

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.