Photo Credit: Anthony P. Lilly


Our volunteer media crew is happy to take inquiries from working journalists about the Seattle HEMPFEST® Protestival event, cannabis policy, local politics and more. You may reach us at




The Seattle Hempfest protestival features six stages of world class music and renowned speakers. Hundreds of arts, crafts, food, and political vendors dot the long expanse of both parks. The Seattle Hempfest event has a “Hemposium” replete with panel discussions and presentations, keynote speakers, displays, and workshops. Hempfest Protestival requires over 116 volunteer crews. The largest cannabis policy reform event in the world, the Hempfest Protestival always happens the third weekend in the month of August. The Seattle Hempfest was established in 1991 at Volunteer Park on Capital Hill in Seattle. Seattle Hempfest moved to Gasworks Park in 1994, only to switch to its current location, Myrtle Edwards Park, in 1995.


Are you going to come check out the greatest Protestival in person? Awesome! Sign up below to let us know you are coming and we will make sure to have your press credentials (and press packet if you choose ‘yes’ below) ready for when you come check in at the Media Check-In/Hospitality Booth located just east of the Hemposium tent (A15 on the map). We can also arrange interviews with invited speakers and offer photos of the event. Just let us know in the comments section of the form. 

First Name (Required)
Last Name (Required)
Email (Required)
Media Outlet (Required)
Printed Press Packet? (Required)


Past Media Coverage of the Seattle HEMPFEST® Event

Partial List of Networks with Worldwide Impact Who Cover Seattle Hempfest

Partial List of National & Local Media coverage


Potential Exposure to future clients for your Sponsorship Dollar

Networks with Worldwide Media Footprint

FOX News Channel (Highest Rated Cable Network)

NBC/MSNBC/CNBC (Second highest rated cable network, over 9.6 mil viewers)

CNN (Third highest rated cable network, Covers Hempfest events regularly)

Reuters (Online 133 mil page views w/21 mil unique visits)

ABC (Over 8.6 mil viewers)

CBS (Over 7.4 mil viewers)

BBC (Over 1.5 mil viewers in America)

USA Today (#1 Newspaper in print, 6.6 mil readers daily with print and online)

NPR (26 mil listeners weekly, 19 mil site visits per month)

UStream TV (Global audience, 10 mil registered users, over 60 mil monthly visits)

The Wall Street Journal (Almost 2.3 mil subscribers weekly)

The Huffington Post (Print and Online over 39 mil views/subscribers)

The NorthWest Cable NEWS (Audience over 3 mil in WA, OR, ID & AK)

You Tube (Over 100k Subscribers on multiple Channels w/over a half mil views)

The Washington Examiner (Circulation 100k to 300k weekly)

Associated Press (Worldwide news agency)

LA Times (almost 1 mil subscribers weekly)

Liberation Magazine & Agence France Presse (Cross country pollination potential)


National Clientele Potential Networks

Seattle (Over 4 million readers each month, 1 mil in Seattle alone)

The New York Times (Circulation Over 2 million)

The Seattle Times (Circulation over 340k)

High Times (Circulation over 175k)


Local Exposure Potential

Northwest Cable News (Local to WA, OR, ID, CA, AK, and MT 2.9 mil viewers)

KOMO TV & Radio (#1 local TV station Prime Time & #1 in TV websites page views)

KING 5 TV (#2 local TV station)

KIRO TV (#1 local morning and late night TV station)

Seattle Weekly (Circulation near 100k)

The Stranger (Circulation near 90k)

Facebook (Over 55k personal contacts)

Culture MAGAZINE (Local Circulation in WA 25K @ 500 locations)

Many Local Radio Stations (Millions of listeners statewide)

NEWS ADVISORY                      Contact: Vivian McPeak (206) 295-7258 or (206) 364-HEMP


July 31, 2015

The World’s Largest Pot festival says “Set the truth free, we need Cannabis Science, Now!”

SEATTLE, WA — The world’s largest “protestival,” Seattle Hempfest, is calling for the government to remove all legal barriers to scientific study of the cannabis plant, citing various ways that humanity is harmed by the lost potential that medical marijuana and industrial hemp could offer if research and development were allowed.

“It is time for the DEA or Congress to de-schedule cannabis entirely, just like alcohol and tobacco, both of which are known killers. Treat cannabis like other botanical medicines by allowing the scientific community to examine the cannabis plant in every way possible,” says McPeak, Hempfest’s executive director.

“Scientific prohibition has likely cost many lives, as well as quality of life, by thwarting scientific advancement on several fronts,” McPeak continues.

Over 100,000 people are expected to attend the three-day, waterfront legalization rally in one of the first two states to legalize. The 24th annual Hempfest hours are noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14th, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15th and 16th. The free public spans 1.5 miles and three waterfront parks.

Hempfest features six stages of speakers and music, 400 arts, crafts, food and informational vendors, and remains the most sophisticated marijuana reform rally in the world. Seattle Hempfest features a broad selection of the nation’s leading reform activists as well as authors, politicians, and medical marijuana patients. In past years, Seattle’s current and past Mayor, the president of its city council, its city attorney, a former police chief, a state representative, a state senator, and a former and current U.S. Congressman have participated as guest speakers, which no other reform event has achieved.

Seattle Hempfest recently received international notoriety when the Seattle Police handed out Doritos with a message at the 2013 Hempfest.

Attendees are encouraged to use the new entrance at the Thomas Street Footbridge, found at 3rd Avenue W., between Harrison Street and W. Thomas Street. Pets are not allowed, and organizers ask that attendees not leave pets in their vehicles. Other restricted items include alcohol, narcotics, weapons, fireworks, spray paint, & hand held propane tanks. There is no camping allowed. Attendees are asked not to leave pets in their car.

Additional attendee information, including info on lodging, can be found at



NEWS ADVISORY                    Contact: Vivian McPeak (206) 295-7258 or (206) 364-HEMP


Aug. 1, 2014

Seattle Hempfest 2014 Kicks Off 23rd ‘Protestival’

SEATTLE – The world’s largest “protestival,” Seattle Hempfest, is calling for an end to marijuana’s designation as a federal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Tens of thousands are expected to attend the three-day, waterfront legalization rally just weeks after the first retail stores have opened in the Evergreen State. The 23rd annual Hempfest hours are noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 15, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 16-17. The admission-free fest spans nearly 1.5 miles and three waterfront parks — Olympic Sculpture, Myrtle Edwards, and Centennial parks. While there is no charge to attend, Hempfest asks for a $10 suggested donation to help pay for the more than $850,000 public event.
“Prohibition has been a catastrophic failure,” says Hempfest Executive Director Vivian McPeak. “If the purpose of prohibition has been to prevent Americans from using pot, then it has been a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. A proven harm reduction approach is the only rational alternative to the counter-productive scorched earth, Orwellian crusade the government has been waging against its own citizens for nearly a century. Prohibition failed with alcohol, and it has failed with marijuana as well.”
Hempfest features six stages of speakers and music, 400 arts, crafts, food and informational vendors, and is the most sophisticated marijuana reform rally in the world. In its 23nd year, Seattle Hempfest features a broad selection of the nation’s leading reform activists. In past years, Seattle’s mayor, the president of its city council, its city attorney, a former police chief, a state representative, a state senator, and U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich have spoken for reform from its main stage, which boasts huge pot leaves suspended high in the air. Expected to speak this year is U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA 48th District).
“I believe that more marijuana has been consumed both at one time, and consecutively, at Hempfest in Myrtle Edwards Park over the last 19 years than any other place in the world, making it the stoniest place on Earth,” says McPeak.
“However, the city has expressed concerns that we at Hempfest share about underage exposure to marijuana smoking, and this year we are erecting two 21-and-over ‘lounges.’ We’re asking adults to limit partaking to those areas. This is consistent with our theme of ‘Time, Place, and Manner,’ as there are new questions about the appropriate response to a post-legalization environment at public events like Hempfest,” adds McPeak.
Attendees are encouraged to use the new entrance at the West Thomas Street Footbridge, found at 3rd Avenue W., between Harrison Street and W. Thomas Street. For more information, go to

Those wishing to avoid the large crowds can watch Hempfest’s livestream from home. For more information, go to

HEMPFEST® Trademark Usage Guidelines

1. The HEMPFEST mark should always be used as an adjective, never as a noun or a verb. This means it should be used as an adjective before a generic noun that defines the product or service. As an adjective, the HEMPFEST mark should not be used in the plural or in the possessive form. EXAMPLE: The HEMPFEST Festival.

2. The registration symbol ® should be used with the mark in superscript immediately after the mark. The symbol should be used with the first occurrence of the mark or with a prominent use of the HEMPFEST mark. Generally, demarcation is not necessary for every occurrence of the mark in an article, press release, advertisement or on a website. However, at a minimum, this identification should occur at least once in each piece, either the first time the mark is used or with the most prominent use of the mark.

3. The HEMPFEST mark should be displayed in a different font or manner to distinguish it from surrounding text. For example, trademarks are often distinguished by using all capital letters or italics. In addition, the generic noun that identifies the product or service should be used immediately after the trademark name at least once in each separate written or broadcast communication, or on each website, preferably the first time that the trademark appears in the material. Additional emphasis can be given by using the word “brand” after the mark or by using the registration symbol discussed above.

The History of the Seattle HEMPFEST® Protestival

(Feel free to re-print any or all of the below of history information, credited to Seattle HEMPFEST®.)

In the fall of 1991 a rogue, insurgent cannabis event emerged in the emerald city of Seattle, an event poised to transform the model of the American pot rally into that of a massive and sophisticated  “protestival” capable of influencing regional and national public policy.

The seeds of the Seattle Hempfest protest-festival were sown a year earlier at the Peaceworks Park Peace Vigil, a six month long continuous political occupation of Gasworks Park that 60s icons Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg both visited.

Fresh out of the scorched earth rhetoric of Reagan’s Drug War 80s, and after holding a legalization rally that year in Seattle’s downtown retail core that featured the declamatory pot activist and author, Jack Herer, my fellow organizers and I knew we had to ramp it up to the next level with something big.

We decided on the aptly named Volunteer Park as a venue for the first Seattle Hempfest (which was called Washington Hemp Expo), as much of the original staff consisted of around 20 volunteer members of the Seattle Peace Heathens Community Action Group.

When we got to the venue in the morning we were concerned that so many homeless people were sleeping in the park. As the morning continued we discovered that they were not homeless at all, they were people who had traveled far to attend. A patchwork P.A. system blasted the message as we placed two large budding sinsemilla plants on the stage. Activists, patients, attorneys, and authors, including Jack (who only missed one), addressed the Grunge clad throng of about 500 people as the sun shone brightly down.

It was the next year, 1992, that the event gained the moniker Seattle Hempfest, with over 2,000 hempsters attending. The Herbivores performed that year, eventually becoming the house band.

By ‘93 the event was attracting as many as 5,000 attendees, and we knew we were rapidly outgrowing our humble venue. At this stage we had not yet detected any visible police presence.

In 1994 we relocated to Gasworks Park, ironically the site of an old petroleum plant, its rusty twisted infrastructure still in place. Featuring the vehement female punk band, 7 Year Bitch, ’94 brought out 15,000 people and blew the lid off of Seattle while creating a snarled traffic cluster for miles around. This was the last year that Hempfest was able to exist without charging fees for vending and forming a formal, city-approved security force. The mosh pit that ensued for 7 Year Bitch’s performance put a serious scare on us organizers, as bodies surfed the crowd and the brave and daring dove from the stage like doobies being thrown to the crowd.

As the event grew exponentially in size and notoriety, the cost of production and promotion grew as well. The need for sound equipment, staging, scaffolding, radios, and advertising required the introduction of musical benefits and merchandising to offset the monetary demands of our growing phenomenon. Famed Seattle clubs such as The Ditto, Crocodile Cafe, Rckndy, The Off Ramp, The Weathered Wall, Under the Rail, and The OK Hotel all opened their doors to help raise green energy for the cause.

A growing concern from police, parks department, and neighborhood groups would be reflected in a series of negotiations that would span many months and involve as many subcommittee meetings to determine our ability to meet the new demands of the Special Events Permit that was now required of us. The negotiations culminated with assistance from the ACLU, and required a $1,000,000 insurance policy, the addition of hired licensed, bonded and insured security, emergency evacuation plans, an on-site ambulance and paid EMTs.

Meetings with concerned community groups soon followed, helping to establish Hempfest as a legitimate political rally, not merely a “pot party in the park”, as had been previously claimed by our critics.

But it was in 1995 that the event arrived in its current home, nestled on the downtown Seattle waterfront and in clear view of the Seattle Space Needle. It was in that location that the Hempfest began its conversion into the multi-faceted “protestival” that it is today.

None of us were ready for the success of Seattle Hempfest ’95. The event was now located at Myrtle Edwards Park. The massive crowd of 15,000 was greeted by speakers like Jack Herer, Chris Conrad, Dennis Peron, Bill Conde, and Elvy Musika.

The years that have followed have seen a massive expansion of the event, which today spans 1.5 miles of 3 waterfront parks, features 6 stages of music and speakers, with over 400 arts, crafts, food, and informational vendors. The Seattle Hempfest volunteer force is over 1,000 strong, and the event site is staffed 24 hours for the 11 days it takes to load-in, protest, and tear down for clean up.

A comprehensive list of permit related plans must be submitted and approved each year, including construction, evacuation, security, traffic, parking, first aid, sanitation, & lost child protocol plans. A detailed minute by minute 11 day production schedule must be closely adhered to, and politics requires myself and other organizers to meet annually with community and business organizations to address their concerns.

In ‘98 Washingtonians made hempstory by passing I-692, making medical marijuana legal in our state. Hempfest security was provided by the Q-Patrol, a volunteer community group formed to fight gay bashings in Seattle.

Hempfest ’99 was the last of the century, and tens of thousands of supporters came out to show the world that the Pacific Northwest is a bastion of political awareness and activism. The same year that WTO paralyzed Seattle with property damage and violence, Hempfest kept its reputation as a civil, orderly demonstration against the Drug War as thousands poured into the long park for music, speakers, and a liberal dose of freedom.

2001 saw the introduction of another day to the Hempfest formula. The first-ever two-day Hempfest went off with nary a hitch, breaking records over the course of the two days. The highlight of the event was Woody Harrelson taking the stage at 4:20 to address the screaming crowd of 100,000.

In 2003 Hempfest was a victory party for the Pacific Northwest pot movement as I-75 won by a considerable margin making possession lowest police priority in Seattle.

Almost a decade later a third day is granted in 2011, with performances by the Kottonmouth Kings, the Accused, and Jah Levi. An initiative to legalize cannabis called  I-502 qualified for the ballot in our state, but the heavy restrictions in it fractured the northwest reform community. The Hempfest Core Group was evenly divided, influencing our board to take a shocking neutral position on the initiative.

2012 made prohibition history as  I-502 passed decisively. The Hempfest organization  moved into our current Hempfest Central offices and 420 culture boutique as well. Since that time the organization and event has grown tremendously. We currently have 119 crews under 6 departments, led by 125 Crew Coordinators.

Sponsorships used to be mostly media trades until 2006. They’ve risen dramatically in the past 4 years, THCF being the longest title sponsor, and many other year-over-year sponsors incl. Rick Steves.

Memberships were started in February 2011, to extend our activities, networking and fundraising beyond the August Festival. We’ve grown from 400 to 800 members per year + another 400 “Trial memberships” per year at our events these days to help generate the nearly one million dollars it takes to produce the annual event. Hempfest’s 6 Stages now host over 120 musical acts and 100 guest speakers annually.

Posters and cover art has been produced by an array of graphic artists, including Larry Steiner, Jamie Sheehan and Art Chantry, Tom Erdmann, Cory and Castka Ench, Scott MacDougall, Stanley Mouse, Ernie Cefalu, & winning several national art awards. A 100% hemp burlap 7 Year Bitch poster from 1994 hangs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Seattle Hempfest Human Solution Chapter raised $3,400.85 in 2014 and $1,336 so far in 2015; all donated to pot prisoners serving life sentences.

The Seattle Hempfest Voter Registration crew engaged over 125 volunteers in 2014, registering 1,206 new Washington voters.

Past speakers have included actor Woody Harrelson, Travel Guru Rick Steves, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrbacher, former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray & former Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, State Representative Roger Goodman, State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, SPD Spokesman Sean Whitcomb, UCFW Director Dan Rush, former Dallas Cowboys center Mark Stepnoski, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Jim Gray.

The Seattle Hempfest protestival has risen to be one of the seminal flagship events of the global cannabis culture, and today, after being forced to protect our brand, we are licensing other Hempfest events so they can take advantage of the experience, the resources, and the vast network that we have developed over the past quarter century. We are excited to announce our new partnership with the Las Vegas HEMPFEST® rally, scheduled for October 3rd.

The entire history, along with hundreds of photos and graphics, is in my book “Protestival: A Twenty Year Retrospective of Seattle Hempfest” is available at

– by Vivian McPeak, Executive Director, Seattle HEMPFEST®

For the full and more detailed history and photos click here: Seattle HEMPFEST® Protestival History