As pretty much everyone in Humboldt knows, the hemp plant and its semi-precious flowers are a pretty big deal locally, particularly in the southern part of the county -- cause for some trepidation but also repeated celebration including a number of festivals. This weekend's Humboldt Hemp Festival has a full slate of activities from Friday to Sunday. Formerly produced by the Hemp Awareness Health Advocates, the event was recently taken over by the Mateel Community Center, which has ramped things up a bit.
The hempish festivities begin on Friday with a performance of The Marijuana-Logues. Originally an off-Broadway comedy with four guys trading dope tales touching on subjects like the legend of 420, the "best pot ever" and hemp clothing, it has evolved into a touring piece with a rotating cast currently including Tony Camin from the original production plus Rob Cantrell, Dan Gabriel and Ngaio Bealum. (Doors at 8 p.m. at the Mateel, showtime 8:30; tickets $20, less for MCC members.)
Saturday is the Hemp Fest's playtime event, an-all day celebration of "The Herb" (again at the Mateel) opening at 11 a.m. and running until 1 a.m. with nonstop action: vendors, speakers, comedy, dancing, music and more music.
Centerpiece to the day is a tribute to the late cannabis activist Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes (at 5:55) followed by a screening of Hemp for Victory (6:15) a documentary made by the U.S. government during WWII on the many the uses for hemp, exhorting farmers to grow as much as possible (an exhortation that is not really required locally).
Featured entertainers throughout the day include blueswoman Selby Minner (12:45), world-fusion trio To Life! (2:55), comic Ngaio Bealum from The Marijuana-Logues (4 p.m.), Tribalvoices with Santee Sioux activist/poet John Trudell and Quiltman (4:50), songwriter Chief Greenbud (9:10), and closing the show with a set starting at 10:35, Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real, a bluesy rock 'n' roll combo led by the son of music icon and longtime marijuana toker/activist Willie Nelson.
Reached at an Austin recording studio where he's working on an album of Hank Williams and Hank Cochran songs with Willie and Nashville country producer Buddy Cannon, Lukas noted that he and the band have played in SoHum before for the Mateel Summer Arts Fair, but this is their first Humboldt Hemp Fest.
Regarding the infamous weed, he said, "I'm disappointed we didn't get it legalized, but I think we need to keep fighting for it. I think the growth of hemp is a major thing because hemp itself, not marijuana mind you, can be used for so many different things. It could be a major boost to the economy if we allow it to be."
Continuing in that vein, he opined, "The government should pay family farms to grow hemp and we could boost production throughout the country. You know the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. The canvases they had over the covered wagons that came West back in the day were all made out of hemp. There's a lot of interesting facts about hemp -- where it came from and why it's illegal. What happened was the timber industry in the '20s and '30s saw hemp as a threat and started a smear campaign against it. They lumped hemp with marijuana, saying it was bad and convinced everyone that it's all horrible. It's not. Of course I'm preaching to the crowd in Humboldt." True dat.
(Saturday admission for Humboldt Hemp Fest is a $20 suggested donation at the door.)
The Mateel's three-day hemp-a-palooza concludes Sunday, Nov. 14, with an Interactive Forum and Panel Discussion on all things hemp from 2 until 6 p.m. featuring "celebrity guests, informed speakers, law experts and involved members of the community."
Guests/experts include the above-mentioned John Trudell, Third Dist. Supervisor Mark Lovelace, Chris Van Hook, the attorney behind Clean Green organic certification, cannabis defense attorney Omar Figueroa, Humboldt Cooperative founder Dennis "Tony" Turner, Max Del Real and Joey Burger from Humboldt Growers Association, Haylee Corliss from the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel, Robert Sutherland, aka "the man who walks in the woods," acupuncturist Julia Carrera and Elvy Musikka, a glaucoma patient in the federal Compassionate Investigational New Drug program who gets government weed.
The speakers panel will be followed by a break-out session where, say the organizers, "the public will have an opportunity to engage with various stakeholder groups about what's next for hemp/marijuana reform in California and beyond." Heady stuff.
For more information on any of the above, contact the Mateel at 923-3368 or go to www.mateel.org. For more on the future of cannabis and the legalization movement, read this week's Journal.