When August comes around in Seattle, we have something a bit more reliable than our weather we look forward to each year. Hempfest® is a festivity all of us Mary Jane lovers can consistently rely on. Every year more 420 friends have joined this annual festival. Trying to catch a glimpse of what surrounds hemp everything. Many of us have attended this event not knowing its true origins. We walk around to different vendors. We purchase hemp themed swag, a new bong or a new piece for flower. We bounce around to each stage in hopes we can catch a joint in the crowd. Others enjoy laying in the grass or finding a rock to sit on down by the water to spark a joint or two. Every year we make new memories which help shape pot culture history. Within building these pot dynamics, have you ever pondered how and why Hempfest came about?

The beginning

Hempfest® originated as a protestival back in the early nineties. Seattle Peace Heathens Community Action was a tiny group with a dream back then. They wanted to create a platform within the marijuana community to raise awareness. The goal was to exchange information on how to build the necessary dialogue to legalize Marijuana. These budding pot activists didn’t have a clue that the pot seeds that were planted in our minds would go onto flourish. The knowledge that spread would grow the foundation for the legalization of marijuana in Seattle. Green lovers gathered the year of 91 in a more intimate setting than we know today. It originally started with 500 attendees at Volunteer park. Within three years this festival kept growing in volumes. The last year Volunteer Park hosted left ingrained memories with its “bong a thon.” The band the Herbivores warmed the hearts of pot lovers and earned their permanent residence at this annual event. Each year there would be new additions, twists, or pot attractions that lured more attention to the ever growing pot festivities. Each year this festival gained astronomical growth. In 94 it moved again. Eventually, it found its forever home on the waterfront of Seattle.Myrtle Edwards Park would be the home where pot activists could continue to spread their word. They kept expanding marijuana education.Shutting down the folklore of misguided information was of utmost importance. By putting more effort into dissolving the negative stigma behind marijuana helped present new yearly initiatives.Each year they were able to make major head way in their fight. Shutting down 60 years of a war on pot mixed with dirty lies may have seemed unachievable at some point. Applying persistence was the core foundation of what resulted in a win for marijuana activists.

How the pro-testival concept has evolved

25 years later Marijuana has not only been legalized in WA state but a few others across the United States. A seed that was once planted and nurtured has grown. It also has been cloned into its sister hemp festivals in other cities. With the emerging growth comes a new pathway of education and goals.There is a larger wealth of scientific information developing and transforming into new paths for progress.

Throughout history, we have watched wars won on a variety of issues. The achievement of the legalization of pot doesn’t stop us from continuing to fight for better marijuana laws.Or continuing the goal towards federal legalization of Marijuana. Not becoming complacent and advocating for continued change within this industry is a must. We have seen history birth and nurture this plant into a unique niche. We have won in creating an industry with Marijuana. We are all watching every piece of this plant we love so dearly be dissected and utilized in ways to help with cancers, chronic pain, seizures and many other ailments and illnesses. The knowledge is out there that this isn’t a plant meant just for recreational use. Being able to Produce and fund more medical studies will achieve more positive findings to continue in widening education of this magical plant. We have all personally witnessed the leaps and bounds of change and will continue to shape pot culture.

Hope for the future

Humble beginnings are where this festival extracted its continuous evolution. Every year it gains more activists and 420 followers. The growth and pieces of marijuana knowledge have created a healthy dialogue amongst our community. We still have so much more knowledge to spread. The marijuana industry has advanced in such a short time. This gem of a green festival continues to thrive each year and morph into new avenues of awareness.

When you participate this year, please ask yourself…How can you be apart of spreading this innovative history and secure a greener future?

Author:  Kayla Michelle