Last minute denial of service road expected to negatively impact “Protestival”
WASHINGTON: “The Seattle Hempfest is taking place this year but with an extreme burden that will be disruptive to waterfront businesses and locals in the area. Hempfest has made good faith efforts to negotiate solutions, but even the most modest accommodation has been rejected by Expedia and the Port of Seattle,” says Seattle Hempfest director, Vivian McPeak.
“Forty-five days before the event, Expedia informed us via the Port of Seattle that they are not allowing Hempfest access to the road it has used for 25 years to bring supply vehicles, vendors, and staff into the back of the event. Expedia is blocking access because they say Hempfest will interfere with their construction and employee vehicle traffic for a few days,” he continues. “First Expedia took away all of Hempfest’s parking, now they are declining access for its production.
This last-minute denial is costing Seattle Hempfest thousands of dollars in extra fees and is creating a logistical nightmare likely to lead to unnecessary traffic snarls on a major arterial along and near the central waterfront.” Over 100,000 attendees are expected at the August 16, 17, 18 Seattle Special Event, now in its 28th year, and the 25th year at its current venue, Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks.
Expedia’s denial of access may jeopardize the future of this historic event. “Expedia purchased the former Amgen facility that is adjacent to Centennial Park and is undergoing a massive development project. Seattle residents have been severely impacted by the recent relocation to the city by giant tech companies, threatening the city’s culture, history, and historic buildings as gentrification and congestion runs rampant across the city,” says McPeak. “Expedia is apparently willing to end Hempfest rather than endure a few days of temporary inconvenience.”
At Expedia’s bidding, the Port of Seattle, which issues a permit for Hempfest to use Centennial Park, is only granting Hempfest use of the north service road Alaska Way West between the hours of 7 PM and 4 AM ―impossible hours to load event equipment such as staging, fencing, scaffolding, portable toilets, tent canopies, and wash stations in and out of the venue. Even the most meager requests, such as a few band parking spots, have been ignored by Expedia.
Organizers believe Expedia is working to end the world-renowned free speech event. Hempfest supporters have created a MoveOn.org boycott petition.