Stash Box illustration by James the Stanton

How to HempFest

This weekend, light-up without getting burned by following these tips.

Hempfest is kinda like Disneyland for stoners. The “Protestival” spans three days, during which weed-lovers are given ample opportunity to shop, educate themselves, party, and connect with thousands of other cannabis fans. If you have never attended Hempfest during its 25-year run, I strongly recommend you do. There really isn’t anything else like it in the world, and it’s free! Here are a few tips for getting the most out of our annual ganja gala.

Do not drive. Obviously, don’t drive under the influence, but moreover, just don’t drive here. It’s just a huge hassle. Seriously, more than a dozen bus lines come within three blocks of the three waterfront parks where the festival takes place. Take advantage of the public-transit system we’re spending so much money on.

Pro campers will take the D Line or cycle to the Helix Pedestrian Bridge at West Prospect Street and utilize the North Entrance to take advantage of the incredibly short lines and massive amounts of bicycle racks. The view from the bridge, facing south, of not only the entire festival but downtown and Elliott Bay is really lovely. There’s an elevator here too, so this is a great entrance for any mobility level.

If you have to drive for accessibility issues, park at KeyArena and use the Thomas Street Pedestrian Bridge to access the Central Entrance, which is still only three blocks from the parking garage.

Show up early. The very coolest moment of the whole day, of course, is 4:20 p.m. Clouds of smoke will roll up into the sky as people celebrate and demonstrate with cannabis. As the green hour approaches, the lines swell with people trying to get in. Avoid the 4:20 crush; to make sure you’re right where you want to be at the auspicious moment, arrive about two hours early.

Leave your pets at home. They will not be allowed in, and with the heat, they will not be safe back in the car.

Bring a bag. Pack it with a bottle of water, a hat, sunscreen, and a handful of lighters. I’m also a fan of having a nice cooling spray with a mix of peppermint, sage, and sandalwood—a refreshing and earthy mix to counter the sun and sweat. Do not bring glass or ceramic bottles or jars of any kind. This goes for nug jars and water bottles.

Be prepared. It’s a pain in the ass to have to stop in the middle of 10,000 jostling people to roll a joint or change the battery in your vape pen. Plus it is a proven fact that anyone who busts out a tin full of prerolled joints looks like a badass. So clean out your pipes, pregrind your flowers, or twist up a few for the adventure.

Pace yourself. You could potentially be rockin’ out in the heat all day and into the evening. Make sure to eat some real food to ground yourself. Drink lots of water. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or you’ve just straight-up gotten too damn high, give yourself a time-out. Go hang out by the water, under a tree, or in one of the many “chill” zones throughout the Fest.

Lastly, bring cash. Support local artists who are creating beautiful glass pieces or amazing hemp clothing, but most important, support Hempfest. Many of the cannabis rights we have today were born directly out the activism of this longstanding festival. They’ve been throwing a free party for all of us stoners for 25 years. Let’s show ’em some love. 

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