Does Hempfest Matter Anymore?

Yes, More Than Ever


Outstanding article. I completely agree. I made the same comparison as you did when some folks (in this very newspaper) complained about Hempfest (or hippies, or stoners who are way too hippie-like) were counter productive. Yes, we need folks who are proper members of society to fight for us (thank you Rick Steves) but sometimes you have to get your freak on. Especially when you winning.
Yeah, they still have beerfest for C's sake. Why not celebrate?
Hempfest isn't going away, but it will change.

As legalization gives way to commercialization, expect Hempfest to evolve into three, distinct groups - an entertainment event at a stadium with top talent performing, a medical conference at the convention center for the health care and pharmaceutical industries, and a grassroots advocacy organization, which alternates its focus between advocacy for legalization in other states/nations and advocacy to tame and regulate the commercial, political beast it helped create.

...the times they are a-changin.
People need to watch Ken Burn's "Prohibition" to understand. There's a difference between regulating and out-right banning what people want. Regulating works. Banning doesn't.
Right on, Dom!
Hempfest today is like an anti Vietnam War rally in 1978, long after everyone left.
The biggest lie they like to spread is that pot is addictive, it is not. Everybody likes it, but if you're out or can't connect with a dealer it's a sad sigh and "oh well". Not the end of the world, nobody goes on a feeming rage and kills people for pot money. Nobody skins their room-mate alive for smoking the last jay. And I know people who've smoked pot for longer than I've been alive and it didn't lead them done the spiked path to heroin or any other hard drugs.
Had a similar discussion with Dennis Peron(the queer who started MMJ for us) about twenty ears ago...
Stoners are not as "out" as queers so they lack the power.... Power is OUT, closet is weak.....

"Shout it loud, I am HIGH and I am PROUD!" Let's end this "GREEN NIGGER SYNDROME"...Borrow from success to build success....
I just wish we could figure out how to get it to the Center or some other larger and better laid out park.
@8, please don't use a racial slur to equate the oppression of stoners to the oppression of black people.
I am a supporter of the new law and think it will greatly change marijuana use...for the better. When you're "sticking it to the man, man!" anything you do can seem justified. If you're just doing something you like, then you have to weigh the real costs and benefits. Wake and bake before school/work should be viewed the same as shotgunning a couple beers before breakfast..."Dude, is that really a good idea?" vs a high five.
Marijuana may not be addictive, but it can be habit forming. It might be "natural" but so is arsenic. A more objective look at the effects, costs, and benefits is long overdue.
@11 And when an objective look at the facts takes place, I hope we also get an objective view of how these laws have impacted minority communities and racist enforcement. We have literally forced hundreds of thousands into the marijuana business to make a living.
Dominic, exactly right that these things should be fun, the problem is that Hempfest isn’t It used to be this in-your-face, “We smoke pot and we’re proud of it!” mentality where people had fun pushing the limits of legality and sharing that experience with like-minded folks.

Today smoking pot at Hempfest really doesn’t differ from any other major regional festival except that the quality of entertainment is horrible. The music isn’t very good (how do you fail to get a single major local act when you’ve got over 85,000 people in attendance?), the “crafts” are incredibly limited, and the food leaves something to be desired. I can get just as high at Folklife, with much better music and entertainment, for the same price (free!). Better yet, I won’t have my buzz killed between every stage act by people berating me to stay hydrated, smoke responsibly, and not overdose on my edibles.

I’d love to see Hempfest take on a Craft Beer Festival model, class it up a little bit and actually provide something unique. Until I see that happen, I’ll probably skip it.
Since I started with my online business, I earn $62 every 15 minutes! My best friend has been averaging 11k for months now and he works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. The potential with this is endless. This is what I do,
interesting article dominic. i think hempfest does still matter, not so much as a soapbox, but as a communal thing to share with others. unfortunately there are some elements that hijacked the experience (imho). five years you could enter with no wait. two years ago i had to wait about an hour in a dense line that wrapped around several blocks. nowhere to sit, junior high kids ripping five foot bongs and begging you to get in their face. of course, not everyone attending is like that. i guess i'm built of a more mellow nature, with the ability to go bonkers in the proper atmosphere. i enjoy a bit more peace and relaxation. but these things happen once popularity is achieved. it happened to the bock party and bumbershoot as well. perhaps it is time for a new and fresh event in seattle. who knows what it could be, but i like the idea. perhaps i'll give it another go next year.
I'm not the biggest fan of your work but that was a great article Dominic.
Thanks for this article, Dom. Good to see you there, even though briefly.

Lee B., Portland
I don't get it. Is this article about Hempfest, fags, pot, fun or what?
Oh my god... I'm grabbing my temples as I need to stop eye-rolling into the next decade or I'm going to have a seizure. Seriously, Dom? I'm used to your insipid arguments you somehow manage to pushed through in your clingy first-person personal experience (i502, cough), but your analogy to the gay pride diaspora has me laughing at your sad, stoned-ass. Really? Uhhm, last I checked, us homos were 'born this way' and stoners are not an oppressed minority. I will gladly fight for your right to imbibe, medical or not, as well as declassification of other class b drugs, but don't liken this gesture to our political fight where we're getting violently beaten and killed in other countries. Oh but hey, I'm glad that you have fun at pride what with all the 'simulated, wild gay sex' because it's just like smoking a blunt.
As a non-pot smoker who doesn't give a damn if other people smoke, I believe it is the flouting of laws to regulate that will cause problems down the road. I like to drink alcohol, but I'm old enough to do so, don't drive drunk, and don't operate a still in my apartment. I have a friend who has been in jail for three months (under federal custody of U.S. Marshals) for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and he's facing up to five years in prison. Extreme? Yes, but he could have just followed the law that personal consumption is legal. Doesn't sound like much fun to me. It can't be worth it.
People who consume cannabis are discriminated against by their families, loved ones and coworkers. The discrimination of a culture, of a choice by a human is the refer madness that's trying to be changed in our society by these new laws. The space that Hempfest provides is safe for those of the kind feather to flock together away from the discrimination of social policy.
Re, "I can get just as high at Folklife, with much better music and entertainment, for the same price (free!). Better yet, I won’t have my buzz killed between every stage act by people berating me to stay hydrated, smoke responsibly, and not overdose on my edibles."

Ditto. The speakers between the music acts were annoying, too many of them screwed up the schedule at one stage Friday afternoon as the musicians stood around waiting for them to finish. It's a long walk to the next stage and they might be speaking going on there too.

A common theme of the speakers was "we need more donations". Well, how about a beer garden or two. Another advantage of Folklife. One rep said, "this is a *pot* festival and you can't have beer gardens at a city park anyway". What about the Center?

The entry detour up and down Elliott and up the stairs at Sculpture was weird. Why can't people line up on Alaskan Way? It was closed to vehicles there.

Why was the one restroom locked, the fishing pier locked and the best beach at Edwards closed?

Just asking. My first Hempfest visit. Regardless, I had a good time Friday afternoon and enjoyed Tim Pate and Space Owl.

The center is not larger. Its half the size. Plus we have to use their clean up.and security teams cutting our hempfest volunteer family by more than half. The center is not the solution.

Dominic hempfest does matter because 502 is far from perfect and the law needs work. Also weed isn't legal. An ounce is decriminalized. There is a difference. This article is great. Pot smokers are an oppressed minority as the drug war is blatantly racist targeting black people. How is it that black people make up 15% of the population but more than 2/3rds of the prison.population? Racism and oppression. That's how.
Hempfest does need more donations. We receive $0.28 per person on average on donations. The event costs $750,000 to put on. The complaint about the music and speakers is stupid. Seven stages and you can't find one band you liked? You couldn't find one speaker you liked? That's a sour apple attitude. Not hempfests problem.
Hempfest provides revenue to belltown and
waterfront businesses. Hotels and bars all report huge earnings that weekend. If a resident or business owner bitches I saw its one weekend a year. You have the remaining 51 weeks of the year to not have stoners patroning your store and giving you money. No worries then, right?
Hempfest messes up the park? Hempfest volunteers pick up trash from western ave to the south entrance. The entire park is spotless once a year. Maybe the city should consider a donation to hempfest for all the free sanitation labor.
Hempfest matters because we have a long way to go before we can say pot is legal. Hempfest matters for the family of people who put it on. Hempfest matters because it's fun. Hempfest matters because it's the people's fave event as voted on by evening magazine readers. Hempfest matters because of its enormous size and thus enormous statement. Hempfest matters because it's the only thing like it in the world. Hempfest matters because it's awesome.
Hempfest was gross. Period. If the majority of folks in Washington consume marijuana, why did Hempfest play out like a dirty broken circus? Pregnant Juggalo women blowing pot smoke in their toddler's faces...yes, I saw this several times. People pushing pills in the bushes. It was a sea of commercial junk! The old hippies on stage yapping on & on about the 'important people' who died before they could see legalization, while bands waited to play their sets. The speakers droned on endlessly! The majority of the bands had to 'pay to play' following three try outs, and then to get stuck on stages with no proper advertising that fabulous local bands were there to entertain! None of the bands had proper promotion in the city via Hempfest! And! The bands got no compensation, but were expected to promote Hempfest and themselves! They didn't even get food...nothing for their time. Also, how many booths selling 420 t-shirts and bongs do you need at an event? The beer fest comments above are true.. class up Hempfest and change it from a broken trailer park vibe! It does not represent me or anyone I know in anyway.. nor is it convincing people that it's 'good for you' or 'safer than alcohol.' Marijuana needs to be legal. Period. But it is not 'superior' and 'safer' than any other substance in the world. Everything has a risk factor. Stop barfing dirty hippie/juggalo/circus propaganda on the public and get positively active! Clean it up! Get happy! I mean seriously.. getting up on stage in a dirty tie dye suit & yammering on about the 60's and discrimination is just stupid! I went to see a friend's band play & left as soon as I could. I will never return. I will continue to support legalization. But I will tell everyone who asks, not to attend Hempfest. Lastly, to the individual above who stated that the Belltown businesses were helped by the festival... Nope.. that's B.S. I was in several during the festival, and the staff were complaining that stoned, dirty, obnoxious folk just wanted directions & to use the toilets... they lost tremendous amounts of money all weekend.
Hempfest is like a bass or drum solo. No one who likes music wants to hear it unless they are a freak. So, go enjoy your festival, you are accomplishing nothing because no one with real clout is paying attention unless they think there is way to profit off of you. You are being exploited. The vast majority of us just do as we always have, buy from friends and get stoned and not draw attention. Not because we think it is wrong, because we simply do not need you. Don't you get it? All you are doing is asking for more and more govt regulation! i have no problem with the govt. BUT, once it has entered into something, it is never going away and it rarely goes backwards, it only continues creating layer after layer of law until it makes sense to not even those who run it. Be careful what you ask for.
Hempfest matters because meig1 says, of course it does. I highly doubt downtown restaurants and hotels see anymore than a token increase in business and I suspect that to downtrend in the next few years as Hempfest becomes irrelevant.
Hahaha. I love these comments. I've been to Hempfest TWICE. One in maybe '94 (at Gasworks?) and then three years ago, where I walked through the goings on at Myrtle Edwards.

I think Holden is bang-on with this article. The dots he connects between the legalization and gay-rights movements are absolutely salient. The struggle is one in the same: The right of adults to make choices that really harm no one. It really is a struggle against fascists and puritans. It always has been, in this country, at least.

But having been to Hempfest, I do get the the critiques of the vibe. Yeah, there is something white trash and juggalo about the whole thing. It ain't cool or hip. A lot of out of towners roll in and smoke up. Much of the music sucks, and it would appear that the organizers make little effort to get good acts on the bill; the artists are not supported.

But I also bristle when I read the comments from the folks who want to "class it up." What does this really mean? Make it more expensive? Charge a big cover to scare away all those undesirable, unattractive, clueless rubes from Enumclaw?

Perhaps Hempfest's strength is its total inclusiveness, something that runs anathema to may folks in the Emerald City, whose very existence in the lovely confines of overpriced Seattle somehow confirm their own personal sense of superiority.

Yeah, Hempfest attracts the Juggalo set--dumb dropouts who revel in the idea of weed. Burnouts Kids who wear the green leaf with the pride of a Party member in Russia, pre-revolution. Burnouts. The worst kind of stoners.

Like Dominic, I walked through the 2010 Hempfest high on coffee and took nary a puff (pot generally doesn't agree with me--mountain camping excepted). I shook my head at the vulgar townies, but... fuck me. They were ALL having fun. Nary a scoffing ironic to be found.

Maybe earnestness counts for something, sometimes? But what the fuck do I know? I'm drunk right now, and wouldn't smoke a bowl if you paid me.
yes,because it is illegal to grow hemp in most states,yet those same states may import hemp from China,Russia,and Canada.Go figure (remember:the festival is named "Hempfest",not "Ganjafest".---- )