A pride fair in the small town of Keizer, Oregon, has been canceled due to safety concerns.

This was going to be Keizer Pride Fair’s second year of celebration, originally slated to run from June 5-12. Organizer Claire Snyder said last year’s fair was a success overall; the lineup included music, drag performances, face painting, vendors, and booths where LGBTQ community members and youth could find resources of support.

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“It was just a time for community members to come together in a space that was safe for members of the LGBTQ community,” Snyder said.

But the event was tinged by harassment from a small group of evangelical protestors. The group, known as the RV Saltshakers, often shows up to community events in the Rogue Valley. Snyder said they traveled to Keizer in vans to chant homophobic messages at LGBTQ youth last year.

(The same group is involved in a lawsuit against the city of Grants Pass, as reported by the Grants Pass Daily Courier. They allege the city has violated their right to free speech by charging them with disorderly conduct.)

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More recently, a right-wing extremist rally drew thousands of people to Keizer in April, reported by the Salem Statesman Journal.

Snyder said the ReAwaken Rally, as well as online harassment that stemmed from last year’s pride fair, led her to cancel this year’s event.

“[LGBTQ] kids already have a hard enough time living in Keizer, that then to possibly create an event which will draw attention and more hate, it’s just such an awful balance to have to juggle and to make a decision about,” Snyder said.

Snyder grew up in Keizer and raised her children there. When one of her children announced they were non-binary, Snyder decided to organize the fair to celebrate and create a safe space for the city’s LGBTQ youth.

Still, not all community members have been supportive. She says city leadership and police were dismissive of her safety concerns as she was organizing this year’s fair.

“It’s just very challenging to have any kind of difference of opinion in Keizer and to want safety for really marginalized groups when leadership is not willing to listen to people from those groups,” Snyder said. “The kids are really disappointed. That was the hardest part.”

But this isn’t the end of the Keizer Pride Fair. Snyder said she and other community members aim to bring it back next year.

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