Facing money troubles, Hempfest may not return next year

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SEATTLE —

A popular pot festival that draws almost a quarter million people to the waterfront each year has a major problem.

 Despite marijuana legalization, Hempfest organizers said the festival's having money trouble.

 From Aug. 16-18, a stretch that spans three parks along the Seattle waterfront will be packed for Hempfest.

 The annual event promotes legal marijuana use and is a hot spot for getting weed-themed clothing and pot paraphernalia.

 This year's event will be the first since the legalization of marijuana in Washington.

 Hempfest executive director Vivian McPeak said despite the growing popularity of the festival, donations to the all-volunteer organized event have not kept up with need.

 “The question is whether or not Hempfest will be back next year with expenses skyrocketing,” said McPeak.

 This year's event will cost more than $800,000 because costs for permitting, security and event production have grown steadily in recent years.

 McPeak said money from sponsorship, selling vendor space and merchandise sales will soon not be able to make up for the lack of donations.

 “We've taken every way to pay for the event that we can, and we have to turn to our community to make up the difference,” said McPeak.

 This year's Hempfest spans the waterfront from the north entrance of Centennial Park, Myrtle Edwards Park and the south entrance of the Olympia Sculpture Park.