PEACEFUL CROWD ENJOYS SUNNY HEMP Author: Susan Palmer,

CELEBRATION HARRISBURG -
The cars lined up five across and 20 deep at the entrance to the World Hemp Festival 2000 on Saturday afternoon south of Harrisburg, and Quiet Garofano darted among them hitting drivers up for spare change."Anything, even a penny will help," Garofano told one fair goer. The dreadlocked and much-pierced Garofano hoped to get enough so he and three friends could make the $14 entrance fee."One dude just gave me $20," Garofano said. A New Hampshire resident, Garofano and his friends happened upon the fair serendipitously. On their way from the counterculture Rainbow Gathering in Montana to Arcada, Calif., they stopped at a rest area outside Eugene on Friday night.There they ran into another group of young people "puffin' nuggets" -a euphemism for smoking marijuana - who told them about the hemp fest."We went, `Yeah, we're here,' " Garofano said.
He was just one of an expected crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 at what maybe the last World Hemp Fest in Harrisburg. Promoter Bill Conde has announced that he plans to sell his property and business, Conde's Redwood Lumber, and move to the Central American nation of Belize after years of battling local officials, who have objected to drug use and sales at his concerts and festivals.

This weekend, private security guards checked purses, backpacks and other containers at the entrance to the fair, and two Linn County sheriff's deputies strolled through the food and craft booths lining the fields where the three-day festival is held.
Despite the stronger security presence and Conde's assurances that drugs wouldn't be condoned at the festival, "puffin' nuggets" was evident Saturday. Conde couldn't be reached to comment on drug use at the festival, but earlier in the day he said relations with the sheriff's office had improved this year thanks to advance planning."We've got a permit now. They're seeing that we're hard-working, that we're doing it right this time," he said. "The police haven't been crawling all over us. They've picked off a few, but that's normal stuff." But hundreds of folks lounging on the grass in front of the main stage were encouraged to light up by musicians and the program announcer, a self-proclaimed Master of Cannabis, who told the crowd, "Don't wait to smoke a joint if you want to. With discretion, do it now."And many did, particularly those seated under a soft green parachute-silk canopy offering shade as temperatures hit the mid-80s.

Gray-haired women with bifocals cupped small pipes in their hands. Close-shorn young men in khakis held joints between thumb and index finger. Bikers in leathers, women in sarongs, old folks and young folks inhaled. Linn County Sheriff David Burright had no comment on the hemp festival, but deputy Jim Yon, who patrolled the party on Saturday, said law enforcement's main concern at the event was safety. Yon said he didn't anticipate problems."They just want to come and do their thing," he said of the crowd.

The festival attracted people with different philosophies about hemp. Some said they believed marijuana should be legal. Hemp vendors, said they had no use for the drug, but see a wealth of opportunity and social benefit from the use of industrial hemp in an array of products including clothing, food, body oils and paper products. Others just came to have some fun.
Nicole Johnson said she has attended the hemp festival for the past five or six years because, "They're family," she said, in reference too their fairgoers. A teacher's aide for the school district in Barrow, Alaska, Johnson supports the legalization of marijuana. "If anything, alcohol should be illegal. You don't read in the paper about some kid getting run over by a high driver."Jan Stevenson, a vendor, has no interest in the THC-heavy version of the hemp plant.

The owner of Ab-bee Normal, a hemp store in Bay City, she sells clothes, candy, lotion, shampoos and other industrial hemp products. Her booth was one of dozens at the fair promoting the use of industrial hemp, a relative of Cannabis sativa that contains minimal amounts of THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana. Industrial hemp was once legal to grow in this country up until 1937. Stevenson said she gets a big kick out of taking her booth to county fairs and watching older women touch the hemp fabric garments and say" Oh, this is what my old nightly was made of!" "I just want to raise awareness that industrial hemp is so valuable," she said.


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