Image via Toke of the Town
Editors note: This post was written by Seattle Area Greenie, Michael. The HMJ team couldn’t make it to the hempfest this year but keep an eye out for other events we will be at this year.
Seattle’s Hempfest – the World’s Largest ‘Protestival’ – was welcomed by gloriously blue skies and the city’s warmest temperatures of the summer (that’s not saying a lot this year!). In a testament to the vision and dedication of a small group of organizers and a large group of volunteers, Hempfest celebrated its 20th anniversary this year by adding a third day and an expanded lineup of music and speakers.
Comprised of three waterfront parks just north of downtown, the Hempfest site is now almost 1 ½ miles long. This makes for a beautiful walk along the waterfront, and allows the more than 100,000 attendees to spread out and avoid crowding. So that’s exactly what we did.
As far as the vendors, it comes down to this – if it can burn, transport or promote marijuana, there are vendors for it at Hempfest. It really was amazing. Along with dozens of stands offering glass pipes of every imaginable shape and color, there were medical marijuana licensing stands (with a friendly doctor waiting to help you), hydroponics vendors, music stages, informational seminars… and more than a few politicians.
I first began attending Hempfest back in 1994, when it a small, one-day event. The big news was that it had grown out of Volunteer Park and had relocated to Gasworks Park (both are tiny compared to Hempfest’s current location). Back then, the idea of an elected official getting on stage to cheer on pot legalization was ridiculous. To their credit, Seattle city officials seem to be on board in a big way now. Mayor Mike McGinn was a featured speaker, as was City Attorney Pete Holmes, known locally for publicly announcing that his office isn’t going to waste time and money prosecuting possession cases of less than an ounce. Even Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was on hand to praise the organizers and participants for their dedication to personal liberty.
But aside from everything to do, all the bands/speakers to hear, and all the sights to see, Hempfest is about celebrating and enjoying marijuana. And that’s exactly what we did, along with everyone else. It’s a wonderful feeling to enjoy a gorgeous summer day at a breathtaking waterfront park, and freely pass a joint around without worrying about getting busted. It’s liberating to talk about growing with vendors who don’t have to dance around any mention of marijuana. Strolling along with my visiting friend Coral, who liberally handed out buds of Blue Rhino to friendly folks along the path, made the day even better. And yes, at 4:20 on Saturday afternoon, an astonishing number of joints were tossed into the crowd, just before reggae band Junior Toots took the stage. If there’s anything wrong with smoking good herb in the sunshine on the waterfront while a reggae band plays behind you, I don’t ever want to be right.
And did I mention it’s a free event? It’s true. Voluntary donations from participants pay for Hempfest, now estimated to cost $400,000 to stage. There are frequent reminders to help out by donating what you can, but it’s always friendly and without pressure. I’m happy to drop a few bucks in the collection buckets, and I purchased yet another Hempfest t-shirt (I have at least a dozen from past years).
As I fired up a fat bowl of Silver Haze in the warm sunshine, it struck me that money donated to Hempfest is a very worthy investment. Hempfest has come a long way, and so has the cannabis culture it celebrates. Let’s keep the momentum moving forward!
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