Which is the best pot festival? Local favorite Hempfest is a strong contender, often cited as the biggest and best protestival in the world. Portland's Hempstalk, on the other hand, has only been around eight years. In contrast to Hempfest's three big stages, Hempstalk, held each September in Kelley Point Park, has just one major stage, and draws a much smaller throng than the estimated 200,000 who crowd the Seattle event. How do the two pot festivals compare? Must Seattle continue with its weird inferiority complex regarding our hippie neighbors in Oregon? Let's take a look.
Photo: Kate Waters
Hempstalk, on the other hand, features mid-level but solid musical talent such as Los Marijuanos and The Human Solution--the important logistical difference being that you don't have to fight through an elbow-to-elbow crowd to see them all. Advantage: Hempstalk.
The Access: While at Hempfest there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to access for those with limited mobility, at least there are sidewalks leading to the fest from both ends. On the downside, those miles to cover from end to end won't do you any favors if you have physical issues. Parking is a big problem; many attendees have to park miles away, adding even more ambulatory challenges.
Hempstalk, though, makes you appreciate the ease of getting into Hempfest, if not so much getting around inside the event once you're there. There's available parking, but it's a real challenge to get from your car to the event if you have mobility issues. Fortunately, golf carts are available to shuttle you from the gate to the festival and back, but their service is spotty, unreliable, and prone to giving priority to attractive young ladies rather than the people who actually need the help. Advantage: Hempfest.
The Vibe: Hempfest remains an overwhelmingly friendly event, but when you get that many people together in a limited space, some stress is inevitably going to be produced. Still, the event is generally peaceful and mellow, other than a few frenetic kids.
Hempstalk is by far the mellower of the two events, owing to the much smaller crowd, a bucolic natural setting way the hell out in the woods, and some hard-to-define factor of hippie Zen which envelops it. There is the occasional belligerent drunk, but they are almost always quickly escorted out. Advantage: It's a tie.
Therefore you must attend both events in 2013 to decide for yourself!
Steve Elliott edits Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media's site of cannabis news, views, rumor, and humor.