The First Sky River Festivals

On Sept.2,1968, in Washington state, a year before Woodstock, the first of what was to be an annual event called Sky River Rock Festival , took place near the towns of Sultan and Gold Bar in Washington state, at Betty Nelson's Organic Raspberry Farm. This may well have been the first multi-day outdoor rock festival ever held. The site was near the Skykommish River, hence the name Sky River. Some of the bands to play that first festival were, Big Mama Thornton, Santana, James Cotton, and Country Joe and the Fish. The Grateful Dead showed up on the last day of the festival. Also rumored to have played were Pink Floyd, and Allman Joy (early Allman Brothers). Balloon rides contributed to make the fair "lighter than air."

In 1969, while the spotlight was on Woodstock, the second Sky River Festival was held near the town of Tenino, Wa.

1970 rolled around and press stories out of Seattle carried reports that the festival sponsors were eyeing a new locale away from the troubled Seattle region. Some of the releases went so far as to name Clark County as the probable spot. A site near Long Beach had also been considered. Later it came to light that Clark County had been picked because it had the most restrictive ordinance in the state regarding rock festivals.

Sky River III was to be a festival, a party, a vision, a town meeting, a community. But also, it was to be a confrontation with not just, "The Establishment", but with the Washougal,Wa. and Clark County, Wa. local "establishment".

"If the rock festival comes here," Clark County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bob Harris predicted, "there would certainly be a court order against it, and the Sheriff's Office would enforce it". Only half of his prediction was to come true.



Article Index
The First Sky River Festivals
The Birth of Sky River III
Site Preparations and Legal Maneuvering
The Secret Leaks Out - Sky River 1970 to be in Washougal
Last Minute Preparations
The Festival Begins
The Crowds Grow
The First Weekend Passes
The Second Weekend Approaches
The End?

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