The Secret Leaks Out - Sky River 1970 to be in Washougal!
A temporary compromise was worked out which left the people on the property as Tate's guests until the legal ownership of the land was straightened out.
That evening the Sheriff's office instituted a short lived roadblock near the entrance to the property with the intention of keeping more people from coming in and to eventually move the original 70 people out.
Site manager, Charlie Locke was too busy to talk with reporters but a representative of the festival who identified himself as Puzzleman ( I put the pieces together) questioned the legality of the roadblock. "This is our land. Everyone who buys a ticket becomes a part owner and has a right to go in and out", he said. When it was decided not to clear the Sky River people out, the roadblock was lifted.
Chief Deputy Cotton explained,"we received advice from people who had worked at other rock festivals that to block the road would be asking for trouble. They said that the people would just park their cars in the road and tramp in over private property. We decided to institute a policy of containment".
The reason no effort was made at that point to clear out the site has been a focal point for critics of the county's handling of the situation ever since then. Actually the reason was quite simple. As long as the people were Tate's guests there could be no trespassing charges and the rock festival ordinance did not take effect until more than 1,000 people had assembled. The county felt it had no legal basis to act upon. "We could not deprive people of the right to assemble on conjecture", Prosecuting Attorney R. Dewitt Jones said. "No one can say in advance that people are assembling at a certain place for illegal purposes. Evidence acceptable to a court must be gathered first", he said. By the time evidence had been gathered it was too late.
Meanwhile up at the site, the workforce, consisting of young men , women and children , with an assortment of dogs, were busy tearing down the barn (which they considered unsafe), putting up a large scaffolding across the clearing, building a temporary stage and painting signs along the road pointing the way to the festival.
"Now that the location of this place is out, we are expecting a lot of people up here. We've got to be ready for them. If they start pouring in before the work is done, it's going to be chaos", Puzzleman said. Clearly, the legal problems didn't seem to be detering the spirits of the Sky River people.
Rumors rocketed through the towns of Washougal and nearby Camas, Wednesday Aug. 26th, when word was officially received that the Edwin Tate ranch would indeed be the site of The Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair. The stunned communities responded in a fairly sane but questioning manner. Many speculated that the Clark County Rock Festival Ordinance would stop the fete from getting off the ground.
"It'll happen", said Puzzleman ( Mike Hill from Seattle), "there's no stopping it now. The word is out up and down the coast and people are headed here by the thousands. The festival officially starts today(Wednesday Aug. 26th) since the site has been officially announced. No music is planned till Friday, then it will be three days of music, five days of workshops and then four more days of music. Those last four days will be the big portion of the festival. Those people (the music chairmen) will be here this afternoon (Wednesday Aug.26th). The bands are basically west coast groups and the biggest name I can think of is The Jefferson Airplane. Bands are anxious to play Sky River because it has a good reputation (since it has been held two years previously). The groups aren't paid. They're happy to donate their time. All we do is pay expenses for them", he said. When questioned about the workshops Puzzleman said, "they would include sessions on news and media and how to curb drug use."