Best Hempfest Ever

Between logistical improvements and a little serendipity, this year’s free reefer roundup was a hit.

Illustration by James the Stanton

I’m going to go on record now and say this year’s Hempfest will go down in the books as one of the best, if not the best. Some of that assessment is personal (and I’ll get to that), but Hempfest organizers also addressed key issues that hampered past festivals.

First, the Hempfest site is a long, skinny strip of grass, trees, and pathways hugging Elliott Bay. In past years there were choke points where you could get stuck for several minutes just waiting for crowds to move along. I don’t know what they did, but this year the flow was flowing and crowd control was masterful.

Second, the chill areas this year were on point. There were several more to choose from, each sporting its own chill DJs or space for local musicians to get together and jam, and they were all visually striking, with sweeping, colorful canopies and flags.

Third, in past years types of vendors were clumped together: If you wanted food, you had to head to the food area; if you wanted to shop, you headed to the shopping area. This year they placed everyone everywhere, so there were sellers, educators, political groups, food stalls, and stages no matter where in the park you ended up. It was great to wander without stress that we were getting too far from something essential.

We wandered past incredibly beautiful glassware from all over the country, and I picked up a new pipe with deep green and blue flashes from a Tacoma glass group.

We headed to the “Hemposium” and sat in on a great talk with Hempfest ‘s Vivian McPeak; Shilo Murphy from the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance; and ex-City Council member Nick Licata. They discussed the impact that ending cannabis prohibition on the state level has had on other still-illegal substances. It was provocative and inspiring.

Then we headed to the water to cool off. There another group was passing around a beautiful glass bong, and we were invited to take some rips with them. We all laughed and chatted, getting nicely stoned and making new friends. Then of course the munchies descended on us. Pretty much anything you could want was there, with no fewer than 20 regional cuisines to choose from, including a staggering array of vegetarian and vegan options.

After stuffing ourselves, we headed to one of six stages just in time to catch local superstar Sir Mix-a-Lot usher in 4:20 with EDawg and Lil Dude. Clouds of weed smoke rolled into the air as people from all corners of the globe came together to shake their asses and celebrate this awesome plant. The sparkling waters of Elliott Bay glittered in the sunshine, and I was lost in thought, reflecting on how lucky we are to have such a peaceful party in the heart of our city.


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