There were numerous reports of cameras and film being confiscated by "vigilante" groups at the site stemming from reports that Federal agents had been taking photographs to be used as evidence against drug offenders. There also apparently had been a rape, or several rapes, as a woman was heard on the P.A. imploring people to not "rape our sisters." Several babies were born to festival goers in local hospitals and one baby was born up on the hill, on the site. And, for the most part, everyone celebrated the last big weekend of the summer in a soggy, muddy, happy, brotherly mess.
They began leaving Monday, Sept.7th and by Tuesday, Sept. 8th, all but a couple thousand were back wherever they had come from. Those people who remained on the site dwindled during the week, some to tear down the stage and concession stands and to pick up garbage. Others simply not having decided where to go yet.
Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials made about 30 arrests as the people left the grounds. No festival officials had been arrested but law enforcement officials were preparing cases against them. An "intelligence network" had been established early in the festival so that officials could arrest drug pushers.The Sheriff's Office had been advised that "this was probably the most sucessful operation, to date, at a rock festival, for the identification and apprehension of suspected drug sellers."
In court, a $100,000 lawsuit was filed against the festival organizers for damages and claiming that the buyers broke the earnest money agreement. One stipulation of that agreement had called for the board of the WPCA to okay the purchase and apparently that never happened. The Tates felt they would not see a penny of the money. "We can't find out who the Washington Planned Associates is, and it's pretty hard to get money from something that does not exist", said Robert O'Dell, attorney for the Tates.
"This is the rock festival that could bring the law to a head", said Georgia Wardall, real estate agent who handled the sale of the land and the person said to have handled the festival finances. "We bought the land. It's ours and the county is sticking its nose into something that's none of its business", she said. "I don't think there's any question that those laws against rock festivals are unconstitutional and we'll take it to the courts if we have to", she added.
By Wednesday, Sept. 9th only a few hundred people remained on the site. Thursday, their numbers were down to less than a hundred. On Friday, Judge Robert D. McMullen issued a permanent restraining order to the rock festival fans to disperse, with bench warrants for anyone who might not obey the court order. The last residents of Sky River were herded out on two donated buses and taken to Delta Park in Portland.
Despite considerable talk by Sky River people to make it a permanent commune, this was not to be. The people of Washougal held a remarkably large (for the size of the town) public meeting to find out the facts of the festival. Around 1,000 people attended. They listened to the explanations from county and state officials, of how the festival had been allowed to take place to prevent possible bloodshed, and to protect the neighboring residents from the backwash if the land had been cleared. But the people of Washougal were not satisfied. They berated the county officials for not being tougher. And they sent a message to the Sky River people: We don't want you here!
Thwarted by the courts and unwanted by most of the community, Sky River had come to its end. After the garbage was picked up and the winter rains had washed away the ruts in the roads, no one would ever be able to tell that once a throng of thousands had ever settled there. But the brief excitement and controversy that Sky River brought to the county would not soon be forgotten, and many local citizens lives have been changed forever by the eye opening events of Sky River.
Was there a Sky River IV ? "The times they are a changing", sang Bob Dylan, and they did. The war in Viet Nam ended and great gains were made in the areas of "rights" for all, and ecology. The people who fought for these causes did "change the world". It has been said that there was another Sky River Festival in 1971 on the Peninsula. But it may be that Sky River III was the last outdoor rock festival of its kind. It was certainly the longest. But if only in the minds and memories of the thousands of participants or in the dry legal papers,
SKY RIVER LIVES!
Sky River Links:
Pics from Previous Festivals
Global Community Seattle Lexicon
Sky River I - History
Sky River II - History
A story based on SR III
About the Author
Robert L. Garland (Kalaloch Bob), the author of this article on Sky River III, passed away on April 22, 2008. Here is a page containing the obituary that ran in the Vancouver Columbian.
His original SR III site was located on GeoCities which has since gone out of business.
SkyRiverLives.com is maintained by Michael Pellegrini. Contact Here
Sky River III was one of the most important events in my life. I arrived there a day before it began and left a day after it ended - a total of 13 days. I worked with Main Gate Security for the course of the festival..
I've always been a fan of Bob's web site. We'd talked numerous times about the festival. He'd read my novel about a rock festival (River of the Sun) and linked to it from his site.
In the past year, we'd been talking and discussing possible upgrades, like adding more photos, and moving the site to its own domain, where bandwidth wasn't rationed like on GeoCities.
Shortly before his death, Bob asked me to maintain the site in his stead. What you see here now is the product of those discussions.
Dislike the crappy black and white pictures on here? Me too, but they're all that I can find available (except for the pictures donated by LDEB). If you have some better pictures and would like to have them exhibited here on the site, please contact me and I'll be happy to put them up right away.