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City Attorney: Hempfest has outgrown its venue

KIRO Radio

City Attorney Peter Holmes says don't get him wrong; Hempfest is great for Seattle.

"It's not a rowdy crowd; it's a crowd out to enjoy a beautiful day," he told KIRO Radio. But that crowd, he said, may have outgrown its current venue, Myrtle Edwards and Elliott Bay Parks.

"I really think we should all start now talking about whether this is serving the needs of the organizers at its current location," Holmes said, citing long lines and traffic tieups around the event on Aug. 21 and 22.

Holmes's assertion took festival director Vivian McPeak by surprise. "We're kind of taken aback," he said. "I don't think we've outgrown the park."

McPeak attributes this year's longer lines to a new queuing system organized by Seattle Police. "From our experiences on the ground at Hempfest, everything went real smooth," he said.

So where would the 100,000-plus pot smokers go? "Take out a map," Holmes said. "Look at parks of comparable size or larger, preferably."

McPeak says they've done just that in the past, but have not found a suitable alternative. Seattle Center has been discussed, but "we're not sure they want us," he said.

After financial uncertainty going into this summer's festival, McPeak says donations were double what came in a year ago. "Our attendees certainly came through for us," he said. That means Hempfest will likely be around in 2011. But where could be another story.

McPeak says he is willing to sit down with city officials to discuss an alternate venue. "We're eager to get to some talks with city leaders," he said. "We're confident we'll be able to iron out a plan."

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