A Few Words About Hempfest

(Which Takes Place All Weekend Long at Myrtle Edwards Park)

A Few Words About Hempfest

Dean Forbes / Stranger Flickr

We like pot. Hell, we love it. This entire package of stories is about how pot can make your life better. As everyone knows, marijuana's illegality is a backward war on otherwise-good people. We waste billions of dollars of resources annually to do—what, exactly? It's not keeping pot out of people's hands, because marijuana is everywhere: There's a fucking marijuana festival on the waterfront. And Seattle has been leading the charge to turn around the drug war (a few years ago, voters made possession law enforcement's lowest priority; a few days ago, the Seattle Police Department rolled out a program to give dealers treatment instead of arresting them).

But Hempfest, which pioneered the movement in these parts, is regressive and archaic. Tie-dyes hang from the stages, and reggae-rock fusion blares from the amplifiers. There's nothing advantageous about sticking a pressing political issue in a countercultural time warp, and there's nothing attractive about a rally that looks more interested in satisfying its own indulgences than effectively advocating for political reform. As it is now, Hempfest drives away unknown numbers of would-be supporters—politically engaged city folk. Here's what Hempfest can do to avoid squandering its potential.

Lose the cultural baggage: Hippies are the stigma of the pot movement. There's nothing wrong with hippies, mind you, and Hempfest itself is wonderful. (I was a director and permit holder for many years, fighting from the inside for Hempfest to ditch the hippie accessories.) But countercultural celebrations and drug-legalization advocacy are mutually undermining ambitions. In truth, the crowd at Hempfest is mostly mainstream folks, freakishly hot guys without shirts, and perky little emo kids. But clichéd hippie artifacts and music—chosen by the organizers—make people who don't identify with a tiny cultural niche want to run screaming.

Bring names people recognize: Get as many members of the city council and county council onstage as possible. Bring in two big headlining acts that reflect the sort of crowd you want to bring (Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, Stevie Wonder). This is a mainstream issue, right?

Fuck with people: Run radio ads with a voice impersonator who claims to be Bill O'Reilly. Say Hempfest is sponsored by Fox News and try to get a cease-and-desist order—and when that happens, ride a wave of publicity.

Give the smart people something to do: Host a forum at Benaroya Hall with Jim McDermott, Jennifer Aniston, Rick Steves, Stephen King, and other unlikely advocates for legal marijuana. Spice it up by making it a debate—challenge the drug czar to show up.

Choose themes that make sense: Last year, Hempfest's theme was "Industrial Hemp." That's like gay pride picking an annual theme of "Gay." This year, Hempfest's poster indicates the theme "20/20 Vision: A Hempen Future." Does Hempfest need contacts? Is Barbara Walters hosting it? Americans have been debating legal pot for over 45 years; great themes help people connect with a debate that's gone stale. Choose a theme like "Pot Makes Sex Better." Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. Bring Jenna Jameson and Annie Sprinkle and Hugh Hefner to talk about it.

Get a thicker skin: You guys are playing in the coliseum of politics—it's bloody in there. When someone suggests how to improve your game, someone who agrees in principle but argues strategy, don't lose your fucking minds. recommended


Comments (63) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
A certian radio personality who hosted it a few years back won't do it because of hippie timewarp mentality of the festival. And Randi still equates all of Seattle with her experience at Hempfest.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Your hype, negative as it might be, is a great boost to the event.

I have been going for years and years, enjoy it to the max.

NOWHERE have I ever heard the drivel you put out about the event. And hippie fear is another unique Stranger creation.

Clue, Fest is not staged at the Bellevue Square Mall for all those main stream folks and has its appeal to a vast counter culture, real people, from metro Seattle and environs. They are pro weed, like the location, like the time of the year, and like the music and variety of people there. (cheap too)

Somehow the Stranger doesn't not inventory well just how much mainstream stuff happens in the area all summer, Hundreds of events in all neighborhoods, every weekend, all over. Some are big, Folklife, Bite, Bumper, Pride, Charity Bike and Feet Runs, Boating, 4th of July, Seafair - and ALL the rest, some are small, some big, but tons and tons.

Hempfest exists, and gets bigger and bigger, because it is NOT a mirror of all the rest.

Clue bus, space in the back. Board please.
Posted by Alex la Rouge on August 12, 2009 at 12:32 PM · Report this
hey, if you want a serious, boring discussion, go to the drug policy alliance conference. this is not just a rally, it's a festival! we're there to have fun and celebrate pot. we shouldn't be afraid of who we offend or if the "right" people don't show up. do you tell pot pride to quit letting people dress in leather chaps and drag because it offends the mainstream?
the park is over-packed as it is, can you imagine the type of security needed if a big name band was brought in? (although animal collective probably wouldn't burst the seams - we do need more music diversity in my opinion.) i agree that constructive criticism should be met with consideration, not hostility. hempfest will evolve over time, especially if more "mainstream" people were to take the time to volunteer.
Posted by westseattlered on August 12, 2009 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Dominic, It sounds like you ought to be working for the Hempfest again...until hemp/marijuana/ganja,etcetera is legal in all 50 states!

Hemp for Victory

Jeanne "Magic" Black-Ferguson
Executive Director
Gramma's for Ganja
Posted by Magic http://www.grammasforganja.org on August 12, 2009 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Hippie culture taught pot. It brought pot. It saved pot for the mainstreaming when before it was relegated to quaint doctors, fans of eastern occult, jazz musicians, Latin American and South Asian migrant workers, poets, and integrationists. Hippies brought pot to the Caucasian and other middle classes. We must thank them, pay homage, and learn as much as we can from them about cannabis in all its uses. They and many other marginalized groups continue to pay dearly to the prohibition. Not that we all don't pay dearly, but some get disproportionately screwed.

When it comes to taking the democratic and civilly engaged step of coming out of the paranoid political vacuum and groupthink that stifles serious and sensible pot political speech, who is going to be the first to stick their necks out and lead the way towards this green revolution? Those who have already gotten past looking different from the mainstream consumeristic culture--the "dirty fuckin'" hippies. Who actually likely do practice good hygiene and who may in fact be having more sex than the rest of us. Likely a healthy amount.

Posted by Phaedrus7 on August 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM · Report this
What to say...but I agree with every word.
Posted by Michael Holden on August 12, 2009 at 1:12 PM · Report this
i meant "gay pride" above. duh...

btw, effectively advocating political reform? i just spent the last few weekends attending lawyer conferences (ABA, NACDL) to discuss these issues. everyone wore suits, drank wine, and told boring stories. now i'm going to hempfest and i'm going to have fun! and i don't care how much you dress up hempfest, get jennifer anniston to show up, and tear down the tie-dyes, the president of the ABA will never show up nor base his/her political views on a festival.
do you really think basing the festival on sex and having jenna jameson there is better for the reputation and a better way to advocate?

i do appreciate constructive criticism, but maybe if the stranger would quit trying so hard to criticize and instead support/highlight the aspects it does like, its readers would start showing up and volunteering eventually altering the landscape.
Posted by westseattlered on August 12, 2009 at 1:13 PM · Report this
Oooooh, gurlz. Dommie-Yum-Yum's gotta serious point, mmm-gay. I know this is going to get tons of peepz panties dans un wad, but I'm sorry, PREACH! This is SO TRUE! Get with it Hempfest!
Posted by Back In A Mimosa on August 12, 2009 at 1:33 PM · Report this
I have noticed a sharp decrease in actual hippies the past few years. Gone (mostly) are the drum cricles and dreads. The crowd now seems to be just .... people!
Posted by jns on August 12, 2009 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Hempfest's stated purpose is not to provide a "non-mainstream event", a festival in celebration of pot, or a message of thanks and homage to hippies.

It is:

Seattle Hempfest Mission Statement

Seattle Hempfest is founded in the belief that the public is better served when citizens and public officials work cooperatively in order to successfully accomplish common goals.

Objective and Purpose

To educate the public on the myriad of potential benefits offered by the Cannabis plant, including the medicinal, industrial, agricultural, economic, environmental, and other benefits and applications. In particular, Seattle Hempfest seeks to advance the cause of Cannabis policy reform through education, while advancing the public image of the Cannabis advocate or enthusiast through example.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on August 12, 2009 at 1:44 PM · Report this
#10 - Life ruled from the dusty file.

This event is living, changing, un bound by paper work 20 years old.

Posted by Aarondia on August 12, 2009 at 3:09 PM · Report this
How about this for a change?

Every black person in the CD should stampede the place and scream Bloody Murder because rich white kids get to do drugs in a public park while in their neighborhood they get beaten up and jailed?

Pretty neat huh?
Posted by For a change... on August 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Has anybody ever considered holding Hempfest in some month other than AUGUST?

I mean, it's hot as fuck, the whole place reeks of sweat and portable toilets, the whole goddamn experience is painful. People got territorial about the shady spots, which were few and far between.

Is this some conspiracy on the part of water vendors?

If any aspect of Hempfest needs revisiting, it's the time and the place.
Posted by Ackham on August 12, 2009 at 3:23 PM · Report this
There's a place for political debate and a place for having freakin awesome fun. Usually not the same place.
Posted by sexyredhead on August 12, 2009 at 3:32 PM · Report this
@11, @14: Aarondia and SRH: Regardless of what the purpose of the organization that is Hempfest is or seems to you to be, they are communicating to all the world that it is about advocacy, activism, and education. If the purpose has shifted to "having freakin awesome fun" then the mission statement needs to be revised to reflect that. If the purpose is still advocacy, activism, and education (which would do the world a whole lot more good than said awesome fun, celebration of pot, and homage to hippies), then people really should consider taking some of Dominic's advice.

It seems that there's a whole lot of potential being wasted. It's a great event that comes together because of a bunch of people putting forth a tremendous amount of effort. But all that energy kind of gets thrown up in the air where it is briefly celebrated, then rapidly dissipates. Does everyone making this thing happen really want it to be little more than a big summer weekend party?

I have nothing against hippies, neo-hippies, quasi-hippies, tie-die, pot leaf leis, and patchouli. But if we're going to spread our message of the need for drug law reform beyond the same people who attend every year, things need to evolve a bit.

I think the big question to consider is whether Hempfest should be a weekend of partying and preaching to the choir, or about getting the attention of everyone who's not already on board. I wish it was the latter.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on August 12, 2009 at 4:06 PM · Report this
jnmend 16
Actually I like Hempfest, because when someone tells me "I'm going to Hempfest this weekend!" I can safely know that I no longer have to be friends with them.
Posted by jnmend on August 12, 2009 at 4:08 PM · Report this
I'm really glad the Holden brothers moved on from Hempfest. It seems as if they are stuck in some esoteric party mode only accessible with a hundred dollar bag of ecstasy. This leaves room for those of us who are grounded in reality and still have rational brain cells. Give up the Special K and the Burning man raves, maybe you too can again be a part of something big instead of inside your own big head. I don't like patchouli and I don't like sniveling *reporters* that have an axe to grind.
BTW - Randi Rhodes was quite the Prima Donna. She's so out of touch with real people it's no wonder she sounds so rough, as if she were rode hard and put up wet too many times.
Posted by witness on August 12, 2009 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 18
I don't really get your anti-hippie crusade.

Hippies are to the pot movement what drag queens are to the gay movement. Both subcultures started their respective movements, and both are now somewhat of an embarrassment to more mainstream pot smokers/gays.

Sure, today hippies seem sort of antiquated and weird to modern urban hipsters and politicians, but without them the pot movement would have never gotten off the ground.

Respect your roots, yo.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on August 12, 2009 at 6:18 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 19
well said
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on August 12, 2009 at 6:27 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 20
@18 - The analogy between drag queens and hippies is an astute one: Hippies are about as effective at changing straight peoples' view of pot smokders as drag queens are at changing straight peoples' view of homosexuals.

I don't see any disrespect here. The point is, no one in his right mind would send drag queens to Congress to testify about DOMA. So why decorate a festival trying to change attitudes toward pot like Cheech and Chong's living room?
Posted by Free Lunch on August 12, 2009 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Witness...you clearly have no idea Dominic and I are up to on a daily basis. Me? I write code, on the floor of my living room, accompanied by my chihuahua. I take a lot of photos and some people like the ones that don't totally suck. I do yoga and work on a variety of community development efforts. When I go to parties, I'm either playing music or helping out with production-related tasks. Dominic almost never goes out and spends most of his time writing and researching. We are not drug-addled elitist conspirators: We are part of the community that started this whole thing and our perspective is as relevant and valuable now as it has been in the past.

I have a fairly good idea of who you are, which is why I'm so puzzled by the fact that you never seem to miss an opportunity to spew your bile and resentment against us. If you want to have a real discussion, use your real name and I for one would be glad to sit down with you to talk about your concerns.
Posted by Michael Holden on August 12, 2009 at 7:50 PM · Report this
@2 said: "Clue bus, space in the back. Board please."

nice attempt at wit. actually, as a non pot-smoker and legalization advocate, i avoid hempfest because of the hippy baggage. i can't stand seeing stoner kids with their hippy-wannabe affect whipping their smelly dreads around as they dance to their crappy music. i can't stand being surrounded by tie dye, grateful dead, and phish t-shirts.

i think this article is perfectly accurate, and in order to move forward, the issue needs much more intelligent discourse than '...you know, man, if the arabs and the israelis would just sit down with a bong and some kind, you know...they'd just mellow out and stop fighting.'

sorry, i just cant stand simpletons.
Posted by hipophobe on August 12, 2009 at 10:29 PM · Report this
Witness, I hope ur a female cause I wanna make out with you after reading your comments.(please take no offense.)
Posted by mutha trucka on August 12, 2009 at 11:25 PM · Report this
Hey Dom, with the help of employees of the stranger we are making a tie-dye tonight just for you, although making a drag queen in tie-die is not all that easy we’ll do our best. You know what stage it will be at come check it out . Btw I loved your article I realize you have to be snarky these days to sell your rag ‘it’s cool‘.
We not only have as you say ‘freakishly hot guys” at Seattle Hempfest but I believe the largest conglomeration of hot women than any other event in Seattle(although some are in tie-dye) .
You know I’ve always liked you Dom, although I wish your bro Michael would get some self esteem one day and not be so defensive. Why take anything personally folks? Unless it’s true.
Posted by You are totally good! on August 13, 2009 at 5:44 AM · Report this
Hempfest doesn't need to lose the "hippie vibe" any more than gay pride parades need to lose the drag queens, any more than "God & Country" festivals need to lose the Confederate flags, any more than block parties need to lose the baggy-pantsed teenagers, any more than DC cocktail parties need to lose the Brooks Brothers stick-up-the-ass WASPs.

Hempfest is what it is. 150,000 or so marijuana aficionados peacefully gathering to smoke pot, listen to music and speakers, maybe buy a piece of glass or a t-shirt. The magnitude of the event is enough of a political statement.

As we face global warming, corporate rule, rising obesity, pharmaceutical stupor, and digital overload, I look back and realize the hippies were right about sustainability, local control, organic diet, herbal medicine, and music and art. Those ethics are worth celebrating.

The sad thing is that because of marijuana's illegality, only those with true dedication and nothing to lose could come out of that cannabis closet and make something like Hempfest happen. Because hippies in tie-dye weren't shackled by corporate drug tests for employment and would lose no face in their community by openly supporting marijuana, they are the ones who became the standard bearers for legalization. But now that the mainstream wants to legally enjoy 4:20, you want the tie-dyed hippies to get in the back of the bus?

We've discussed this before, Dom, and we do have some similar personal views regarding Hempfest; I too recoil from the scent of patchouli and body odor, the mundanity of drum circles and reggae, and the freakishly pierced/tattooed/dreadlocked. Then I get onstage to speak and look over the mass of humanity on the waterfront all sharing one dream - legalized cannabis and hemp - and find that the positive far outweighs negative at Hempfest.

The marketing could be tweeked, the speakers could be more well-known, but all-in-all 150,000 people gathered for two days smoking pot without any major incident gives lie to the reefer madness about amotivation and criminality among cannabis consumers. Until the short-haired, polo shirt, respectable job mainstream pot smokers put on an event that attracts 150,000, let Hempfest be Hempfest. It's a party, y'all; don't try to read too much into it.

(Besides if you want a serious button-down political examination of marijuana policy, there's always NORML National Conference in San Francisco, Sep. 24-26, chock full of doctors, lawyers, political strategists, media personalities, professional athletes, researchers, and celebrities. And very little tie dye.)

Russ Belville
NORML Outreach Coordinator
Posted by RadicalRuss on August 13, 2009 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Oh so you want to turn hempfest into another fucking hipster festival... How very original. Although Stevie wonder would be "dope", but is he an advocate? Unless he was willing to substantially lower his fee I doubt they could afford him. I don't think those you term hippies are the problem; hippies are actually capable of putting on stylish non-garish festivals with eclectic musical acts. Bonnaroo, for example. There's no need to toss the hippies into the sea; a lot if the bands they bring in just plain suck, hippie or not. It's booked by people that seem to be living in an early 90's drum circle.
Posted by Puff The Magic Dragon on August 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Godzilla1916 27
Hell Yeah!
As a one time hippy, who loves hippies, and as a vendor there for many years; I couldn't have agreed more. To be effective in this world we need to be able to adapt and be willing play the moderate game once in awhile; how else are we going to enacte change?
Posted by Godzilla1916 on August 13, 2009 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Happy 4:20 yo.
Posted by Vapor Bros on August 13, 2009 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Dom, do me a favor... Do a word substitution in your article:

Substitute "Gay sex" wherever you see the word "pot" or "marijuana".
Substitute "Gay Pride" wherever you see the word "Hempfest".
Substitute "Drag Queen", or "Effeminate Male", or "Bull Dyke" wherever you see the word "Hippie".

Then, I want you to read it back to yourself and ask yourself how you feel.

See any irony?

I understand your intentions as well as your employer's need for snarky editorial, but Hempfest is just a gathering of people who like the freedom to use Hemp & Marijuana. Hempfest is as diverse as the people who put it on, and the people who attend. Don't like it? Don't come. We don't need bigotry against hippies.

Hempfest is doing fine. Hempfest is edu-taining people. Hempfest is "safety in numbers". Hempfest is "Pot Pride". I'm sure you're familiar with those concepts in your own movement.

I appreciate your suggestions, but you know, more than many out there, that Hempfest is put on by VOLUNTEERS. Most of your suggestions are very impractical in such an organization.

And, if I'm going to VOLUNTEER MY time, money, and effort, I'm going to present the culture that *I* most identify with.

But if *I* did the ambiance there however, it would be SO BORING AND UGLY that no one would stay. So, I leave the ambiance to people better suited to the task than me. And, the ones who currently do it just happen to like pretty colors. And it just so happens that tie dies are inexpensive, available, and... have pretty colors! Is that so wrong? Would you prefer the black visqueen? We're not made of money you know.

Tell you what Dom, you think tie dyes scare people away? Well pony up some effin' dough and volunteers and get them down to the park to pretty it up YOUR way. (you still have time) I'm sure in a mile and a quarter, we could find SOME space for YOUR style of ambiance -- whatever that is. Would you prefer we just had rainbows everywhere, or would that just be stereotyping?

Savor the irony Dom.
Posted by oddjob on August 13, 2009 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Questions from a hippie to Dominic Holden:
Welcome to America, where choices are free! I don't like all the arrogant fucking yuppies and hipsters at Bumbershoot. Do I write an article in the stranger to ask Bumbershoot to change their style? No! I simply don't go! Choices!
The hippies started Hempfest. Hell, we started the entire pot movement. Should we change our culture, dumb it down, and close our minds just for your tastes? If you agree with cannabis reform but hate our culture, find another of the hundreds of ways to further the cause. Then you can avoid the tye-dyes. Simply dont go! Again... choices!
We'll have a festival, with or without you.
Posted by UnCommonSense on August 13, 2009 at 6:16 PM · Report this
ViennaSt 31
I just want to see a variety of people coming together to celebrate pot. There will be so much going on--different music, scenes and people. I am sure there will be something for everyone and it doesn't hurt to get out of one's comfort zone and meet someone new.
Posted by ViennaSt on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 PM · Report this
Jdog 32
Blah, blah, blah Hempfest- Myrtle Edwards Park, August 15 and 16. Thanks for the advertisement Dom!
Posted by Jdog on August 13, 2009 at 11:31 PM · Report this
politics and the relevance of certain sub cultures aside, it is really frustrating to have Myrtle Edwards and the Sculpture Park treated like the Evergreen State Fairgrounds for 2 weeks. These parks are respected and appreciated by the people who live near them and use them daily. The same is not true of Hempfest. Between the week of set up, the event, and the week of tear down, Hempfest brutalizes the park with cars, trucks, honey buckets, litter, extension cords, tents, RV's, tore up lawns, golf carts, portable buildings, checkpoints, and so on. It is really kind of an affront to the area from a bunch of folks who live elsewhere and who could seemingly not care less about the imposition and mess they are making.
Posted by NIMBYist on August 14, 2009 at 9:05 AM · Report this
I agree. I went to hempfest ten years ago and it was great. There were a ton of information booths and people selling baked goods. Woody Harrelson spoke and, people listened. It seemed to be a very organized event.
I went back to hempfest for the first time last year. It was awful!! The music, SUCKED! Selling baked goods was no longer legal. There were cops everywhere. The info booths were clouded by a ton of white trash pot accessories(cheap bongs with Micky mouse or seahawk logos on them). And, the people, well, it was mostly filthy, disrespectful kids from the burbs trying to look hard.
Im only 29 but, I wanted no part of the fest. We made are way once through and couldnt wait to get out of there. The atmosphere was just plain trashy!
Posted by ew on August 14, 2009 at 10:12 AM · Report this
It's not all "reggae-rock fusion" or hippie jam bands. Check out Dead Vampires on Sunday at 1pm. Very weird, very fun.
Posted by Rocky "Boo" Cocky on August 14, 2009 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 36
@12... excellent point, my friend.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on August 14, 2009 at 2:51 PM · Report this
With regard to #5: Hippies quit taking credit for bringing pot to the white masses!

As I recall it was Snoop Dogg that brought pot to this white boy. I agree with the author of the article - too much hippy dippy fanfare is a real bonershrinker. turnoff. I love pot as much as the next guy - probably more, actually. But I CAN'T STAND patchouli, I'm sick of tye-dye clothes and the main reason I won't be at Hempfest is because I cannot smoked-out hippies seriously. Who can?
Posted by yesiamemployedactually on August 14, 2009 at 5:57 PM · Report this
With regard to #5: Hippies quit taking credit for bringing pot to the white masses!

As I recall it was Snoop Dogg that brought pot to this white boy. I agree with the author of the article - too much hippy dippy fanfare is a real bonershrinker. turnoff. I love pot as much as the next guy - probably more, actually. But I CAN'T STAND patchouli, I'm sick of tye-dye clothes and the main reason I won't be at Hempfest is because I cannot smoked-out hippies seriously. Who can?
Posted by yesiamemployedactually on August 14, 2009 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Why stop at Hempfest? Who else here is up for having Bill O'Reilly impersonators endorsing butt plugs, anarchy and sloppy gay sex, all on a big ol' billboard outside Fox News' headquarters?

(This, of course, is not to take away from the article, which is a rare example of The Stranger getting something, especially a list, right without fucking it up or screwing themselves over how cool they think they are. The Stranger could learn a lesson or two from its own good articles, as hard-to-find as they are)
Posted by a friend on August 14, 2009 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Man With Hat 40
Hempfest, no matter the reason you attend, is representative of the pro-marijuana movement. It is a big, loud, very present symbol of the movement. And so, if it looks bad, the pro-marijuana movement looks bad. If Hempfest is full of hippie/stoner stereotypes, then people will be convinced that the movement is full of hippie/stoner stereotypes. That's the simple truth. If you want to propagate those stereotypes, then allow Hempfest to say the same, by all means. But if you want to open the doors of the movement to others and give it momentum, change.
Posted by Man With Hat http://manwithhat.bandcamp.com on August 15, 2009 at 11:37 AM · Report this
El Matardillo 41
#34, ew, you are very correct. I went today and it was too crowded to even move, just a bunch of pipes and t-shirts, hoards of cops, and long waits for anything. No reason to ever go again.
Posted by El Matardillo on August 15, 2009 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Hempfest "celebrates" the medicine I have to use to control severe pain. I find this a little disturbing. When is Oxycontinfest ? I used to go to Hempfest, but it has gotton too comercial. There are far more booths selling stuff ( that isnt even made out of hemp ) and some of it promotes drug abuse, than there are booths teaching people something about hemp. I have become bored with it, and actually find it a hassle to attend as a disabled person.
Posted by Disgusted on August 16, 2009 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Did you not get the memmo! Hempfest is already a hipster party. Hempfest is no longer about activism, not the way people in seattle bring it up anymore, now its just another festival for people to run around in and paint their face and talk about things they are never going to do. By the way, Fucking hippies do not represent my views about the drug and its use, I know real people that have real jobs and families, why not represent those folks in hempfest. Instead all you see is dreaded white kids talking about eastern religion while updating their status on face book, the entire thing is a sham.
Posted by R2881 on August 16, 2009 at 2:17 PM · Report this
What's wrong with reggae?
Posted by presently out on August 16, 2009 at 2:58 PM · Report this
How do they justify all the young kids I saw using pot at Hempfest ? Is this the message hempfest wants to send ? Children, come to hempfest, you are sure to score some weed and get high for 2 days a year without getting into trouble.
I saw 10 year olds passing a joint around. How can this continue ? Not exactly a wholesome family environment. And where are these kid's parents ? I think Child Protective Services should be attending hempfest if anyone.
Posted by Mother on August 16, 2009 at 7:12 PM · Report this
I saw 10 year old kids passing a joint at hempfest. I will never attend that sorry excuse for a festival ever again.
Anyone who supports children getting high needs to have their head examined. Why are the Hempfest executives not being brought up on charges for providing children with a place to get high, aiding to the deliquency of minors ?
It's time for a big stink to be raised about it, and I dont mean the smell of pot either ! If it were up to me, that drugfest would be shut down permenantly !
Posted by BigMomma on August 16, 2009 at 7:19 PM · Report this
Hempfest is to pot legalization what the gay pride parade is to gay rights activism. It's a celebration of people who support the cause. Gay pride parades would be boring without the crazy drag queens, just as hempfest would be boring without hippies.

Hippies just don't appeal to your personal aesthetic. They don't appeal to mine, either, now that they seem more like dirty raver street kids than the hot college hippies of my generation. But I think it's pointless to argue that they are hurting the cause, and that it's as offensive to them as writing an article stating, "Hey, flamboyant gays, it's your fault people are anti-gay marriage."
Posted by virginia mason on August 16, 2009 at 8:33 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 48
@ 47) Your analogy is flawed. Hippies at Hempfest are different than drag queens at gay pride. The whole point of gay pride is for gay people to shamelessly put their sexuality on display, to come out of the closet. Cross-dressing drag queens are doing exactly that.

But the point of Hempfest is for pot smokers to come out of the closet--but not just hippie pot smokers--all pot smokers. And hippie flags, tie dyes and cliched music drive away all the other pot smokers who would want to come to the event.
Posted by Dominic Holden on August 16, 2009 at 8:59 PM · Report this
I think Dominic is spot on.

I have been around the National Normal organization for about 20 years. First, when i lived in DC and every year during the hempfest since i moved to Seattle. If there is to be legalization of pot, in other words make it "main stream" then the approach to that main streaming has to be main stream. The hempfest although entertaining is anything but mainstream. Each year the Hempfest is basically the same. The majority of attendies are young <25 years of age, and few older people. There is no advocacy that occurs it is only a "pot party". I dont smoke a lot of dope, i did, and i do it a few times a year. But my wife on the otherhand has continued to be a life long smoker. She goes to work everyday, pays taxes.... and she is not a criminal.

One last word on my rant. The hempfest is a ticking time bomb. Each year it gets scary crowded. It is really, really scary at certain times, and at some point, someone is going to panic for any reason, and people stuck in the mass of bodies will be injured and or killed. I dont think i will be going back ever again

Posted by cbfischer on August 17, 2009 at 12:13 PM · Report this
I think Dominic is spot on.

I have been around the National Normal organization for about 20 years. First, when i lived in DC and every year during the hempfest since i moved to Seattle. If there is to be legalization of pot, in other words make it "main stream" then the approach to that main streaming has to be main stream. The hempfest although entertaining is anything but mainstream. Each year the Hempfest is basically the same. The majority of attendies are young <25 years of age, and few older people. There is no advocacy that occurs it is only a "pot party". I dont smoke a lot of dope, i did, and i do it a few times a year. But my wife on the otherhand has continued to be a life long smoker. She goes to work everyday, pays taxes.... and she is not a criminal.

One last word on my rant. The hempfest is a ticking time bomb. Each year it gets scary crowded. It is really, really scary at certain times, and at some point, someone is going to panic for any reason, and people stuck in the mass of bodies will be injured and or killed. I dont think i will be going back ever again
Posted by cbfischer on August 17, 2009 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Whether they intended to celebrate the young-doper element or (more likely) to exploit and demonize it, the Seattle PI website (http://www.seattlepi.com/photos/gallery.…) published a slew of pics from the event; and a good 80% of them feature stoner youth toking on 6-foot bongs and the like. Zero imagery or discussion of the larger political agenda, of making Washington State more in line with California and Oregon in terms of medical marijuana regulation, of the tragic fallout from the obscene prohibition policy in the U.S. All of which convincingly demonstrates the validity of Dominic's argument. As long as the Hempfest organizers make it easy for the event to be spun as an apolitical orgy of pot-smoking, that's how the corporate media will present it.
Posted by ragged on August 17, 2009 at 6:18 PM · Report this
cbfischer said: "There is no advocacy..."

Nonsense. The Hemposium was two days of education and advocacy in a large tent with comfortable seating. Between the Hempfest volunteer staff and partner groups like Justice Works! and the League of Women Voters, 591 Washington State Voter Registration Forms were completed at the event, each carefully checked for completeness and legibility.

Hempfest organizers work closely with City officials and public safety agencies to make the event as safe and peaceful as possible. As problems (like foot traffic "pinch points") are identified, changes are made to mitigate them, even when it means relocating fences, tents and barriers on Saturday night. Every HF "Core Staff" member is briefed on traffic plans, emergency evacuation procedures, and key safety-related information. The Seattle Police and Fire Departments worked hard to keep the peace and help ensure safety. There is never a completely risk-free way for the people to peaceably assemble and petition their government for redress of grievances, and it is always possible that (Heaven forbid) someone will be injured, but if that happens, it won't be because of casual disregard for foreseeable problems.
Posted by dr. paul r on August 17, 2009 at 6:32 PM · Report this
I dont disagree about the advacacy as much as i disagree about the crowd control, it is non exhistant and dangerous, try to exit from the south side of the park at 4:45 PM and you will think twice about ever going back.

As far as advocacy, how many people out of the 100,000 people over three days sit in "large tent" with comfortable seating. How many tents are there, i think there is one. As far as listening to the speakers, its exactly what dominic describes in his article, it only speaks to a fringe audience.
Posted by cbfischer on August 17, 2009 at 10:04 PM · Report this
I only speak for myself, not the event or its organizers. I only know what I saw. I did see crowds, and there were times when I had to be patient as I slowly walked past dense spots with a few hundred new friends. You might have seen worse, and I wasn't at the South side at 4:45. I think twice about most things. I disagree with the characterization "crowd control, it is non-existent." I saw evidence of crowd management. I guess it could always be improved, though I'm not a crowd control expert (are you?). I hope the organizers will improve at it with each Hempfest. Calling it to attention, as you did, is useful, and I'm glad you do. I just disagree with things like "ticking bomb," "non-existent," and "no advocacy." Just my personal opinion (regarding the ticking) and my observation (re the existence of crowd management and advocacy).

I only saw one Hemposium tent, but it looked pretty big to me. I hope nobody missed out on advocacy for lack of tents, and that everyone wanting to be advocated to got plenty. Maybe more tents, or different advocacy would get more people to want to see/hear it. Did you have a plan in mind?

As far as the "speaks to a fringe" thing goes, that sounds like you mean that the content of the advocacy only appeals to a minority, a "fringe audience," and certainly not you. I support you speaking to whatever fringe or mainstream audience you like, and I'm glad Dominic gets a big venue of his own.

You said "100,000 people over three days." THREE days????!!! Shit! Did I miss one? I could have registered more voters...
Posted by dr. paul r on August 18, 2009 at 12:28 AM · Report this
tornadoZ 55
I'd have to agree w/ #16. "Hey, did you go to Hempfest last weekend?" is the perfect trick question for a first date. Not only is the fest a collection of the most annoying crowd of idiotic pseudo-hippies in the entire Pacific Northwest, but it totally destroys Myrtle Edwards Park every August, just when the park has finally recovered from the festival the year before. Try walking or riding your bike through the park on the Monday after the festival and you'll see what I mean: deep muddy tire ruts in the grass, huge patches of dead and trampled lawn, garbage strewn everywhere—all through the park and up and down Elliot and Western Avenues... Nice work, hippies! I vote we move Hempfest to the Puyallup State Fairgrounds, since from the looks of things that's where most of the people come from anyhow.
Posted by tornadoZ http://homoerraticradioshow.blogspot.com/ on August 18, 2009 at 8:41 AM · Report this
@45. if you seriously want to blame hempfest for minors using go ahead...but the simple fact is this: PARENTS RAISE YOUR FUCKING KIDS. I am tired of living in a world where you all want to blame everyone else for the shit your kids do. It is not the rappers fault they go for gangs and it is not hempfest's fault they started smoking pot so early. Tell you what...do without all your materialistic crap for a while...focus on what is needed...and one parent STAY THE FUCK HOME or work different times or something...you are responsible for your 10 year olds...blaming anyone else for their graffiti, pot smoking, early sexual activity, violence etc is wrong. accept responsibility, make some sacrifices...it is ridiculous...I work with Hempfest and we would each and every one of us would be pissed if our 9-15 year olds were smoking pot--it is a choice each adult should make for themselves...that is what Hempfest is about...those parents should be educated and more responsible.
Posted by MommaG on August 19, 2009 at 1:47 PM · Report this
The comparison of drag queens to hippies is only partially correct. Drag queens get ostracized far more easily in the gay community than hippies in the legalization movement. I agree though...lets get rid of the hippies....I am sure you know, Dominik where to find 2000 people to work for free all weekend...and 200 to work for free year round...by the by just saw a great picture of you only which is only 2 or 3 years old...holding 2 megaphones and a radio as you stand smiling and laughing in front of some prayer flags...one question...how much did it cost to get you to sell out?
Posted by peacenik on August 19, 2009 at 1:57 PM · Report this
I was at the Saturday 2009 Hempfest. I agree with this article about legalization advocates being worried about the implications of the fest losing its true focus: legalization and educating the non believers. It was way too crowded and by and large, people were there to just get stoned in front of the police without the threat of arrest, than to forward a noble cause. Some people were there to just act like an ass and have an audience to watch them perform.

It was more of a freak show than a political rally to forward legalization efforts. Just look the pictures released by the Seattle post Intellegencer online @


Seeing these photos is all the ammunition that the Marijuana haters need:

Marijuana equals freaks! If they allow legalization, this type of behavior will be everywhere, down main street USA, and not just confined to Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle.

The really amazing thing to me was how mellow everybody was. Not one arrest with everybody cramped together shoulder to shoulder!!! You cant get that kind of cooperation in polite society!!!

The one MAJOR thing is, either they are going to have to start turning people away at the gate to avoid hyper overcrowding that DOES eventually cause violence OR the need to find a bigger park to have it at.....

Posted by bremertongreg on August 21, 2009 at 10:20 AM · Report this
You are really opening the door for those who want to shut it down! Nothing good will come out of your complaints! Getting some old fart from Playboy is stupid and proves that you don't know what you are talking about and you probably are just one of those people who find fault in everything! Stay your lame ass at home and let those who enjoy it have their fun without your cry baby attitude!

Posted by THE INDIVIDUALS on August 22, 2009 at 12:31 AM · Report this
nice work
Posted by viviennewestwood on August 25, 2009 at 1:21 AM · Report this
#56 BRAVO ! I AGREE. No-one under 18 should be allowed into Hempfest without parental supervision. It isnt Hempfest's fault that these kids are getting high, but is Hempfest's responsibility to be sure they are not doing it at Hempfest, just like it is a bartender's responsibility to "card" their patrons.

Anyone under 18 caught inside without their
parent or gaurdian should be escorted immidiately to the gate ! Actually, this is a LAW ENFORCEMEWNT responsibility.

Children caught getting high at Hempfest should be escorted to a child protective authorities tent or booth. The parents of these children
should then be required to attend parenting classes, after being charged with child abuse via neglect.
Posted by No Kids At Hempfest on September 10, 2009 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Hempfest is a poor excuse for a person to thumb their nose at the law, get high in public with Cannabis, make some money for local shops like a street fair and call it a "politcal rally". If this is a rally that's supposed to promote Hemp and it's advantages, which there are many, than why is Cannabis, something completely different, being openly promoted, smoked, and paraphanalia being sold?

Even though Hemp and Cannabis are related, it's well documented that Hemp doesn't make as good of a high as Cannabis, and Cannabis doesn't make good products like Hemp. To have open Cannabis promotion at Hempfest: 1) Makes it a big stoner party, which no major corporation will sponsor to bring Hempfest to a real national level. 2) Does a great disservice to opening peoples eyes that Hemp can be a mainstream crop with large profitable yields.

If Hempfest's goal really is to promote the awesome things Hemp can do. Than Hempfest should be doing everything it can to distance Hemp from Cannabis and show that Hemp isn't a drug but more of a forestry product like trees or agricultural like soybeans or a textile like cotton.

I give the organizers of Tacoma Hempfest credit. They're taking a more moderate approach of trying to win people over by not making it a stoner/hippy event. But unfortunately they are going to promote medicinal uses for Cannabis. Which, once again, has nothing to do with Hemp!!

I've seen through the thinly veiled lie the reason for associating Cannabis with Hemp. It is to get Cannabis legal. Once Cannabis is legal the promoters and attendees of Hempfest will forget the cause of promoting Hemp because they got their precious Cannabis legalized.

If at some point in the future Cannabis is legalized. It needs to be treated just like cigarettes and money from sales put into a health care fund. My hard earned tax money better not go to subsidize healthcare when all these tokers develop health problems from the smoke and altering their brains with an unnecassary recreational drug.

I strongly believe alcohol and tobacco should be illegal too. I have seen first hand lives shattered or taken by both drugs. It is very heartbreaking to see the mental/physical sickness, disease and death caused by both.
Posted by DennyJr on June 17, 2011 at 6:19 AM · Report this
I actually had plans to go to Hempfest Friday and Saturday. Friday was enough to know that I would not be coming back to Hempfest ever again, let alone Saturday. A bunch of 16-21 year olds smoking pot, surrounded by a bunch of crappy vendors (there were maybe 5 decent vendors imo, and speakers that just kept repeating "We need you to give us money so that we can go to these festivals and get the word out!"
Posted by SomeGUYinSeattle on August 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this

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