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Hempfest will happen after all – deal struck with city


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Organizers of the annual Seattle Hempfest celebration have reached an agreement with the city to hold the Hempfest 20th-Anniversary Festival at Myrtle Edwards Park in August and to drop a lawsuit over the city's refusal to grant it permits.
"We're real excited about being able to get back on track and plan a great festival," said Vivian McPeak, executive director of Hempfest. "The most important thing is to get the word out that Hempfest is actually happening."

Hempfest sued the city in February after negotiations to find an alternative venue failed. The city said its planned construction of a pedestrian and bicycle overpass from Elliott Avenue West to Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront meant the site wouldn't be available for the annual event.

But the overpass project hadn't been sent out to bid yet, and Hempfest organizers argued the city and its contractor should be able to work around the festival.

The City Attorney's Office said the city Department of Transportation agreed to solicit alternate bids for the overpass project that would allow Hempfest to be held in the park.

"When the bids were announced on March 16, it was clear that the construction timetable would not interfere with the festival," Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for the City Attorney's Office, said in a statement.

Under the agreement, Hempfest will be held on the waterfront Aug. 19-21. In return, Hempfest organizers agreed to dismiss the pending lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Mills said.

The lawsuit said city officials repeatedly canceled meetings and failed to act on Hempfest's permit application within the required 60 days.

The annual event, dedicated to education and reform of marijuana laws, has been held at Myrtle Edwards Park for all but one of the past 19 years.

McPeak said organizers had to cancel some planned acts because of the uncertainty that the event would be held.

But he was philosophical about the dispute with the city, saying, "It wasn't good guys versus bad guys. It was competing interests."
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