August 15, 2009 – Considered one of the largest annual gatherings in the world for the decriminalization of marijuana, the Seattle Hemp Fest will take place August 15-16 in Myrtle Edwards, Olympic Sculpture and Elliott Bay Parks along the northern section of Seattle’s waterfront.
The two-day “protestival” will host seven stages presenting a compendium of music and comedy performances, as well as exhibits, displays, panel discussions and presentations on marijuana policy reform. In addition, a large collection of vendors will sell an array of hemp and other products, from food, clothing, jewelry and natural fragrances to bongs, arts and incense.
Since the birth of Hemp Fest in Seattle’s Volunteer Park 18 years ago, the event has grown from a quaint gathering of 500 local marijuana activists to more than 150,000 people, from the marginalized beatnik and avid pot-smoker to curious festival-goer and everyday family. Attendees trek from all over the country to attend the event, transforming the upscale, condominium towered neighborhood into a modern-day, Woodstock-esque celebration.
Seattle’s Hemp Fest is, as they say, “the real deal”. The festival is and represents an enormous cultural phenomenon that has moved from the backyard to front lawn of some of Seattle’s most prestigious public real estate. Long known for its liberal urban policies and innovative social programs, Seattle has served at the vanguard of the decades-long movement to legalize marijuana, a crusade that has graduated from the smoker’s pipe dream to frontline political debate.
And, yes, what you’ve heard is true: marijuana users imbibe their favorite cannabis of choice with Seattle police on peaceful mounted patrol only a few feet away; in past years, residents of neighboring Queen Anne hill have reported a thick “cannabis cloud” blanketing festival grounds.
With former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske now the nation’s drug czar, this year’s event promises to be even more popular and relevant.