This Year’s Seattle Hempfest Could Be The Last


Photo: Pete Santos/Seattle Hempfest
Hempfest was bigger and better than ever in 2009, and promises to do it again this year. But without plenty of community support and green energy, this could be the last time.

​According to the director of Seattle Hempfest, the largest annual marijuana rally in the world, this year’s event could be the last, with the iconic stoner gathering in a fight for its very existence.

“If things do not go right this year, this could be the last year Hempfest happens at all,” executive director Vivian McPeak said.
According to McPeak, a confluence of factors — including the slow economy, the theft of $5,000 worth of radios last year, a lack of financial support from the community (the average attendee contributes about 30 cents), excessive requirements from the City and the Port of Seattle, and the rising cost of event production — resulted in Hempfest being more than $50,000 in debt after the 2009 event.

Photo: Pete Santos/Seattle Hempfest
Vivian McPeak: “We will win this struggle”

​”This year, we not only need to raise the $300,000 operating capital it takes top produce the world’s largest pot rally, we also need to pay our in-house benefactor back,” McPeak said.
McPeak described Hempfest as “the world’s largest all-volunteer political rally.”
“Not a single dollar of the money we raise goes to pay the salaries of anyone on Hempfest’s massive staff,” he said.
“I have seen what a motley, ragtag bunch of stoners can do when there is a goal as honorable and lofty as making America more free, more fair and more just for all,” McPeak said. “That is my inspiration to forge on.”
But, according to McPeak, Hempfest now needs some serious perspiration to go with that inspriation.
“We need to ramp it up on several fronts because somewhere in America someone is getting busted right now, poised to lose their money, their freedom, their possessions and even their children,” McPeak said.
“How pathetic would it be if Hempfest were to disappear right before we tasted victory in the struggle against the tyranny of prohibition?” McPeak asked. “It simply cannot and will not happen because we will not let that happen, regardless of what it takes.”
“Here is where you come in,” McPeak said. “You are the backbone of the world’s premier cannabis community event, and I am turning to you now to inform you of what Hempfest needs from you to continue to kick the Drug War’s rancid ass all the way to hell and back.”
“We will win this struggle and here is how we are going to do it,” McPeak said. “Here is how you can make the difference.”
This year Hempfest launched a brand-new membership program, which allows folks within the greater cannabis community to connect directly with the local and regional movement.
Hempfest members are invited to attend special bi-monthly members only events, meet other kindred spirits, and get direct access to the most current news, activities and emergency calls to action.
“In addition to those great perks, members gain direct ‘no wait’ access to our new no-line ‘member’s entrance’ at Hempfest,” McPeak explained.
Hempfest memberships come in three tiers: $25 for basic, $50 for supporter, and $150 for the V.I.P. membership, which includes exclusive access to a special V.I.P. members’ party at the actual Hempfest event.
“This new program has already collected over $10,000, and is one way we can increase awareness, community and revenue simultaneously,” McPeak said.
For more information about the Hempfest membership program, click here.
Editor’s note: Who knows, if enough of you sign up for a Hempfest membership and tell ’em Toke of the Town sent you, I may even finally get invited to give a speech! 🙂 — Steve