The Birth of Sky River III
Edwin Tate only wanted to sell his land because the property taxes were getting high. His son John, part owner of the land, had a dream of owning a cattle ranch east of the Cascade mountains. They were soon embroiled in a controversy greater than could be expected. Tate met with Mrs. Georgia Wardall, a broker for Laurie Realty of Seattle, who arranged a real estate deal between himself and the Washington Planned Community Association. Tate was lead to believe that the land would be used for year round recreational facilities for youth, but that he had no idea of a planned rock festival. Tate signed an earnest money agreement calling for an initial check for $1,000 to be presented to a real estate escrow firm on Monday, Aug. 24th, with an additional $4,000 to be paid Aug.28th, $5,000 to be paid Aug.30th, and the balance of $18,000, making the total down payment $28,000, to be paid by the closing date of Sept.30th. The balance of the total price of $165,000 was to be paid at a rate of at least $13,000 per annum at 7% interest. A possession agreement, which is a legal addendum to the earnest money agreement, allowed the WPCA to occupy the land immediately. And, Mr. Tate was allowed to continue to live on the land for $1 per month, a pretty good deal.
The property w as a 160 acre farm consisting of several old decaying buildings, a large open pasture,several springs, and dense woods at the end of Keep Road,off Lehr Road, several miles north of the town of Washougal, in Clark County, Washington.
Late Monday Aug. 24th, Ric Alba, a spokesman for the third annual Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter than Air Fair, told Seattle press that a massive rock festival ,aimed at attracting up to 100,000 persons ,was being prepared at a secret site in Washington state. Alba said that the site would be announced late Thursday, Aug.27th," to put the courts out of action". He referred to county ordinances that have placed strict rules on the length of outdoor rock music festivals. Earlier announcements had scheduled the festival to run from Aug.28th to Sept.8th, the dates to coincide with the start of the American Legion Convention and the Peoples Army Jamboree in Portland, Oregon.
Early Tuesday morning, Aug. 25th, even before the sun had come up, 70 young people had arrived on the Tate farm, in a car caravan from Seattle. County and State officials, who were keeping a lookout for festival activity in an attempt to block it before the opening date, knew they were here, as one of the cars had run out of gas enroute and a deputy had stopped to assist them. The Sheriff's office sent a patrol car to the Tate's farm when it was learned of the destination and radio messages from the car to the dispatcher were heard by newspaper staffers. The secret site of Sky River was no longer a secret.
The people at the site were not anxious to admit that they had anything to do with Sky River. Their plan was to keep their presence secret until Thursday Aug.27th, one day before the festival was to begin, in hopes that the sudden flood of people would prevent the county from organizing any enforcement of the rock festival ordinance.
" We're just working on this barn and planning a cookout ", one man at the site claimed." We don't know how many people will show up. There could be quite a few", he said.
A press conference was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, Aug.25th, to elaborate on plans for the farm. At the press conference Ric Alba said an estimated $68,000 had already been invested which would be geared up to provide facilities for 100,000 persons and that the facilities could be doubled in six hours if the crowd should swell to 200,000. A total of $117,000 had been budgeted for the fair by the Hydra Collective, a socio-cultural organization witin the Seattle Liberation Front, which was spearheading the event. Funds for the event had come from private investors and donations. Advance ticket sales produced an estimated $10,000.