Each year since 1973, on the weekend after Labor Day, engines rumble the very foundation of Sublimity. The Harvest Festival began as a simple tractor pull, and while that event remains a highlight, some of its wheels have gotten considerably bigger and more monstery. And that's not the only thing about the festival that's grown. Now a three-day affair, the schedule bursts at the mid-section with events such as a Fun Run, a parade, a KidZone with bounce houses and rides, and bands and magicians on the Coors Light stage. Yet all the fun and engine flexing is for a good cause. More than 25 community organizations, including the Sublimity Fire Department and Relay for Life, benefit from the festival's proceeds.
The River Rock Summer Concert Series spreads out along the bank of the Willamette River, drawing crowds to watch legends and rising stars of rock, blues, and soul strut their stuff. Local Northwest wine and beer offerings are available and food vendors dish up everything from pulled pork and mac and cheese to jambalaya and oyster shooters. Families can enjoy the children’s area presented by Discovery Village with hands on activities such as blowing bubbles or constructing a functional recording booth from giant blocks.
Building a strong community bond is as important to Salem Sabres’ owner, Rhonda Alexander, as is forming an elite basketball squad. For the team's first season in the American Basketball Association, Rhonda recruited young players who shared her enthusiasm for the sport, but also a passion for helping others. Between practices and games against Pacific Northwest Division foes, Sabres players take time to host community events and volunteer at local schools, performing in anti-bullying skits, playing pickup games with the students, and giving kids expert tips on how to spell "horse" both on and off the court.
Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the McDonald Theatre has enjoyed a long, strange history since its establishment in 1925. Originally a community playhouse equipped with both a stage and a screen, the theater found new life in the 1950s when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and psychedelic pioneer Ken Kesey began presenting free cartoons there every Saturday morning. The McDonald spent the next six or so decades as a movie house exclusively, but in 2001, the Kesey family returned, producing concerts and community events under the theater’s enormous proscenium arch. Kesey Enterprises finally purchased the time-weighted stage in 2009, and today the building hosts events ranging from high-school proms to reggae concerts to plumbing-fixture lifting contests.