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Aug-29-2015 02:50printcomments

The First-Ever Salem Hempfest at Riverfront Park

Grab your friends and come on downtown to learn a lot about Hemp. (No smoking allowed)

Salem hempfest
Riverfront Park's Amphitheater will be the center of attention at the Salem Hempfest. Photo by Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Salem Hempfest is finally fully budded and ready to harvest. That’s right... it is time to come together in Oregon’s capital city and share information about the plant that brings fuel, food and fiber to the world: hemp.

The big event starts Saturday at 11 am and will go through 11 pm, centered in Riverfront Park’s "Hot Boxin" Amphitheater. There will be 25 Bands/DJ's, speakers, vendors, a beer garden, and food booths. Admission is free and it is open to all ages.

Bands scheduled include: amerikan overdose, Agnozia, Felony Flats, Cherrybomb 13, X Day, Under Sin, Amadon, Amy Jones, Another Way Out, Tyson Huckins, Darrin Wayne, Wooden Sleepers, Chainbound, Dead Nexus, Sour Alley, Meghann Wilks, 100% Medicated, LFGM, PYNT, Je$us the Truth, and DJ James Dean.

There will be some impressive canna-experts on hand as well as keynote speakers Dave Seber (Founder and president of The Hemp Shield Company) and James Bean (CEO Seeds Here Now.com).

Interestingly, the festival that claims to be Oregon's Marijuana Legalization Celebration will have absolutely no marijuana being used or sold on the grounds.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with getting high,” said organizer Shane Lemco.

After last summer’s Portland Hempstalk, festival-goers are less shocked by this revelation than they could be. Cities throughout our otherwise “cool” state are passing ordinances against “all” smoking in city parks like there’s no tomorrow, presumably as a guise to control marijuana use. All of this has taken place since Measure 91 received so much support, and then passed, making adult use of marijuana legal in Oregon.

Still, the festival is expected to be well attended by curious Salemites and beyond, wanting to know more about hemp and about the new Oregon law for adult recreational use of marijuana.

Learning about industrial hemp and the many ways it can benefit our lives is a worthy endeavor. Hemp has been around forever, and it was an American farming staple from our country’s beginning until prohibition in 1937.

Hemp doesn’t get anybody high, though it is a variety of the Cannabis plant. Hemp is refined into products such as food, oil, paper, wax, cloth, pulp and fuel. We can save a lot of trees by planting fields of hemp.

There will be great music and entertainment, multiple expert speakers and booths with vendors prepared to spread the seeds of learning, just as Jack Herer (RIP), the author of Emperor Wears No Clothes, would have encouraged. Dr. Phil Leveque (RIP) would also have been pleased to see the discussions about cannabis/hemp offered to the general public, no more “preaching to the choir”. There is so much to learn, and there is no time like the present.

No Smoking Anything in the Park

The Mayor’s office affirmed that legal cannabis is included in the Salem City Parks “no smoking zones”, which became law as of Aug 22. Regardless of your age, or whether what you consume is legal in the state of Oregon, you may not smoke anything in a Salem city park. Not even at a hemp fest.

Yes, most people are very sure that this awkward ordinance was instilled specifically to stop marijuana smokers from imbibing. But what about drinking? Yes. They can (and will) have a beer garden. Marijuana? No. The answer is simple and predictable.

The provisions of Salem Revised Code Chapter 45 will be enforced by Salem Police officers. What is the penalty for smoking on park property? $50 penalty for the first infraction, $150 for the second infraction, and $250 for the third or subsequent infraction. No matter what you’re smoking or vaping.

The city of Salem officials do not think the smoking provision will be difficult to enforce.

“It is anticipated that most smokers, once made aware that smoking is prohibited, will abide by the smoke-free regulations. Enforcing these violations will be primarily complaint-based and can involve a police officer issuing a warning or citation. Police response to complaints will be based on the priority of other calls for service.”

Behind the scenes, the organizer keeps us guessing

It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that Salem Hempfest organizer Shane Lemco is very passionate about his constitutional rights and the efforts necessary to correct corruption. At a planning meeting with the Salem city officials on Wednesday, it was unclear as to whether or not the festival would come together. He was late. The festival organizer that invited the press entered the room ten minutes after the hour.

Wearing a 420 t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up and sporting sunglasses he never took off, Lemco stood as he addressed the meeting with City of Salem staff Becky George, John Kleeman, Randy Funke, Alicia Blalock, Mike Gotterba, and Lt. Upkes.

“I will make a statement and then take questions,” he began. There was an agenda before us, and maps of Riverfront Park up on the wall. That had to wait.

He took the opportunity to walk through a long chronicle of the events that led him to where he is today, his “Highway to Hempfest”. He’s penning a book, and spoke of a movie to come.

He won a lawsuit against the City of Salem a few months back and came away with $10,000, with which he has largely funded this Saturday’s event. He says he was wronged by a police officer who had his vehicle towed, then next his license was suspended, and he insists that he deserves an apology from that officer.

If he "doesn’t get one", he said he and a group of “420 militia” will assemble in front of the officer’s house.

“We will take back power!” he exclaimed. “I am a leader and I will lead!”

And if he does get an apology, he said, “I’ll call off Hempfest, I’ll walk away.” This, just four days before the event was to take place.

The group of officials at this meeting were there to finalize plans for the festival, not talk him out of having one.

I asked him what would happen to all the hundreds or thousands of people that showed up if he canceled the event at this late date, to which his answer was, “It will still happen. It’s the people’s event, it would still happen.”

When asked if this is what people were going to hear about on Saturday instead of hemp education, he gave a resounding, “Yes!” Then went on to share that he intends to publish the personal phone numbers of all the people attending the meeting in his book, inferring either you’re with him or against him.

He quoted Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and Jesus, all with the same vigor for exposing and ending local government corruption.

He asked for help from the meeting attendees. “Will you stand with me?” he asked. “If not, then you support a corrupt system!”

It seems unlikely that the stage will be used for a soapbox of semantics and local grievances instead of the hemp education people are expecting.

With 2 dozen bands planning to perform and many reputable speakers, the first-ever Salem hempfest will probably revolve around hemp. Well, that’s what people will be counting on.

A name is not just a name when it’s a Trademark

The Salem Hempfest has another small issue at hand. The name “Hempfest” is trademarked by the largest hemp festival in the world, the Seattle Hempfest. Apparently there has been some interaction between Seattle and Lemco, which left Seattle Hempfest organizers frustrated.

“He knows we will allow him to use the name,” said Tim Pate of the Seattle Hempfest. “But, he refuses to work with us. We’ve never had any festivals not care about the bigger picture before. We are here to work with him, but he’s not interested.”

“They don’t really have a trademark. I was at the meeting when they supposedly made that official. It’s really just two words put together,” Shane Lemco said. “It doesn’t matter. They can sue me, they will lose.”

The Salem Hempfest is today.

It is going to happen. Rain or shine, people will arrive in downtown Salem to experience what this event has to offer.

They will leave empowered, inspired and enlightened, or something less than that if things don’t fall together as expected. There is more to learn than one day can provide, but it is a very good start and it would be great to see a Cannabis Protestival take place in our fair city on a regular interval.

Education is key, and there is a great learning curve due to a propaganda campaign that thrived for over 70 years, but no more.

For more information, go to: facebook.com/hempfestsalem

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Anonymous August 25, 2016 4:52 pm (Pacific time)

I think it's wrong wrong wrong ,that beautiful Park will be trashed ,and right in front of the Golden Man & The Circuit Rider ,,shame on you Salem


Sally's August 31, 2015 2:25 pm (Pacific time)

Check out what organizations your city council members belong to and you'll understand a whole new level of religious conditioning through local ordinances.


Josh Akers August 30, 2015 10:54 am (Pacific time)

This Lemco guy seems self-centered and it appears like he is trying to highjack the legalization spirit for his own ends. Nobody would show up for his cause alone. I'm guessing he has an ego problem. It's very common among bottom-shelf leaders. It just doesn't vibe right. That said, he obviously is trying to help Salem, so for that, I would still shake his hand and say "Thank you very much." TJP (I gotta read more local news)

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