The Festival Begins
On Friday Aug. 28th, the day the festival was to start, the incoming rush began in earnest. About 8,000 people were on the site by nightfall and Saturday the ranks swelled to about 15,000 people.
What the people did there that sunny, warm, chaotic weekend is a matter of record.
Some sifted every conceivable type of drug into their bloodstreams. They swam in the Washougal River the way nature intended (naked), built a hundred campfires, and a thousand makeshift tents , and occasionally they even listened to music. Residents across the river were shocked at the hundreds of naked bodies frolicking before their eyes and reported more than a few bizarre sexual exploits.
The first weekend ended and like the tide rushing and foaming out to sea, the people left. Only a couple thousand remained to hold down the fort.
The people of Washougal meanwhile were overcoming their original state of shock at the amazing events and as the shock wore off, the anger began to build. Letters, phone calls, and telegrams, poured out from them to newspapers, to legislators, to the governor. Most had a common theme: Get those dirty and immoral people out of our backyards!
Exactly who these people were is a dificult question. They seemed to fit three catagories, in a general sense. First came the long haired hip "freaks".
They came from Seattle, from Spokane, from all over the Northwest, and from all over the U.S. They wore a common "uniform": faded blue jeans, sandals or bare feet, the girls were for the most part without bras and often without any tops at all. They were joined over the weekend by the motorcycle toughs . The main group came from Tacoma. They rode big chopped down motorcycles and dressed in black pants, black boots, and the men had shaggy beards. Their arms sported tatoos and their women often were missing a few teeth. The third group, the tourists, came in over the weekend only to stay a few hours. They were easily identified by their usually short haircuts and raised eyebrows after they saw nude couples strolling the grounds. The collage formed by these people was a colorful one. They listened to music , turned on to drugs, made love to friends and strangers alike and a banner hanging from a fir tree summed it all up: Sky River Lives!
Along with the drugs, alcohol was a definate part of the festival scene over the weekend. Festival goers either brought their own or found ample supplies to purchase on the festival grounds. Most of the drug selling was in the open with a few concession stands offering mescaline, marijuana, LSD(acid), Beer, wine, or foodstuffs. Concessionaires , who made prior arrangements with the organizers, sold such items as peanut butter and organic jam sandwiches, hot dogs, leather goods, beads , watermelon, hot German potato salad, chicken, spaghetti, tamales, brown rice, flags ($1),soft drinks, bread, one stand was selling Goofy's Goulash, a sort of poor mans lasagna, milk, dry cereal, pancakes, toilet paper, roach clips, and cigarettes. Other vendors moved through the crowd, hawking their wares. Generally the crowd was calm with most of the boisterous action being brought on by the liquor. There were some unconfirmed reports of beatings and fights in the area where the bikers were camped out , however. Periodically it would be announced over the P.A. system when a bad drug appeared. People were warned to watch out for bad "Mexican reds" and LSD laced with strychnine. Up at the stage, a table was set up for drug donations to be given to the bands.