Every year since 2005, the weekend following Labor Day, the communities surrounding Portland, Oregon become ablaze, not with fire, ablaze with the passion for fun, music, and Hemp and Cannabis activism. Lawyer and former Texan, Paul Stanford, the visionary behind The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), along with a community of sponsors, supporters, and volunteers convert Kelley Point Park on the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, into a virtual village of education, understanding and love. This year the local media estimated 70-80 thousand attended the two day event.

As the many attendees made their way into the event, I recalled Friday (the day prior) as I drove the beautiful 29’ rented RV up the narrow winding trail into the area which would become known as the VIP area, and “Hempstalk Central”. For the next few days I watched the “Jack Herer Memorial Stage” being erected, generators and electrical outlets being positioned, vendor spots being marked, recycling and trash containers placed in strategic areas, and of course the always needed Port-A-Potty’s being stationed in the large open field surrounded by trees. With the help of the Hempstalk support staff and volunteers, Kelly Point Park was morphing into HempStalk 2013! While most see the two day event, I was a spectator of four. I watched a large open field prepare for a small community come together, security fencing being installed around the areas backstage, and VIP sections, vendors began arriving; within hours I was in a small town developing on the riverside. A village of vendors, arranging inventory on shelves, artisans displaying their various wares, and food booths unloading supplies, all waiting anxiously for those coming in celebration of a plant; Hemp and Cannabis!

The event began as always with the opening ceremonies of tribal drums offering up the event to the “Great Spirit” and to the spirit and love which encompassed those beautiful souls displaying community support. Ngaio Bealum, an extraordinarily funny Cannabis Comedian and long time activist, would maintain the tireless position of being the Emcee for the two day extravaganza. Ngaio brought the crowd to laughter with his “Highly” addictive style of humor. He announced speakers, and musicians remembering each name and organization without pause. His long time presence at Hempstalk has made Ngaio Bealum one of the mainstays of the event. Activist, wow they were many, but when Federal Medical Marijuana Patient, Elvy Musikka took the stage the crowd went wild. Yet she’s without her vision, meeting her and speaking with her, with her spirit of positivism, was like a warm blanket. The Activist and musicians poured everything they had into the crowd. Individual activist such as author and activist Chris Conrad, Hemp activist Stephanie Bishop, Dr. Phillip Leveque, Brave Makayla (a young cancer patient fighting for her life), Time 4 Hemp’s Casper Leitch, Jared Allway from SAFER, and the list continues, all working hard educating the attendees. The music was just as moving and eclectic as the activists’ speeches. Performers of all genres took to the stage, pouring out every ounce of energy and passion into the audience. Musical groups and entertainers with names such as the Herbivores, Bad Habitat, Hot Cold Tea, and Twice Baked were among the Saturday lineup. Justin James Bridges (while in a wheelchair) rocked the crowd and also performed with others after playing his own set. Tim Pate, another local, wowed the crowd with his graceful style of traditional sound.

Regulars to Hempstalk such as local artist John Trudell and Bad Dog, performing his poetry style of folk rock, continued the inspiration and message. Ponyboy and Los Marijuanos (from the Las Vegas area), made Saturday’s 4:00-4:45 time slot prime for the sweet smell and white smoke which filled the air at the proverbial time, 4:20. Saturday night ended with the “Hempstalk Talent Search Winners”, a fantastic group of guys from Sacramento, California, Arden Park Roots, with emphasis on the “Roots.” These four guys laid down some sound. And one song “Green Anthem” moved the people with their Rasta beat leaving all wanting more. After an exhausting day and graciously declining the numerous invitations to the after-parties knowing the next day would be another 16 hour day, I reserved myself to my RV for a much needed night of rest.

Sunday, day two began with Ngaio welcoming the returning attendees, and inviting those just arriving, to a day full of love, joy, and laughter. After the opening performance of Spiral, Ed King, with his ever present upbeat style, commanded the stage with his hip-hop sound bringing the populace to their feet. As the speakers and musicians moved on and off the stage, with the guidance of the always faithful P. Steve, the man which keeps the two day event running on time or as close as possible, day two of Hempstalk was moving along smoothly. During the 4:00-4:45 time slot, Real-One ensured the air in front of the stage hung with a cloud of thick white smoke, denoting 4:20 had arrived once again. After Paul Loney, one of the major sponsors of the event finished speaking, the event was recharged with a rockin’ pick me up from The Kerry Stickler Band; a hard driving blues rock band which sent everyone off with an uplifting feeling, realizing they had just been part of another historic event.

On Monday, the “Jack Herer Memorial Stage” was being packed up, loaded on the trucks which brought it to the park and pulled away. I walked back to the RV; I didn’t want to leave. As I reflected on the past few days, waiting for the rush hour traffic to subside, I sat in the solitary vehicle watching the people began to arrive at the river side to enjoy a cool evening with family and friends, I realized the celebration only ended when we did. I started up the RV and headed back down the narrow winding road to the main entrance of Kelley Point Park. While driving my way out and into Portland, inside I was filled with the anticipation of next year and Hempstalk 2014! ~