MADISON: Bucky or Buddy? The convergence of the Big Ten football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers with the 41st Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival in downtown Madison this Saturday should make for an interesting weekend. 20,000 to 40,000 Huskers fans are expected for Nebraska’s nationally televised Big Ten debut at Camp Randall at 7pm Saturday evening.
Both Wisconsin and Nebraska were once centers of industrial hemp production when America’s hemp industry was thriving a century ago, and this historical fact is noted on the event poster and other promotional items. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in Wisconsin in 1957, and thousands of acres of feral hemp plants descended from their cultivated ancestors flourish year after year in both states today. Feral Hemp even plays a role in supporting gamebird populations in Missouri and Nebraska
The festival kicks off at Library Mall adjacent to the UW Campus at State and Lake Streets just before noon Saturday. Library Mall lies along the route many football fans will take as they navigate from State St. over to Camp Randall Stadium as the 7pm game time approaches. ESPN is setting up their GameDay set on Bascom Hill, site of a number of prior Harvest Fests as well as recent April 20 “4/20” smoke-ins in 2009 and 2010.
Harvest Fest attendees can expect live music on Library Mall from before noon Saturday to up until about 6:30 pm, punctuated with speeches from cannabis activists from as close as Madison and as far away as California, New York City, New Jersey, Michigan and of course, Nebraska.
The 41st Annual includes several new features. A first-ever 12-page glossy festival program debuts this year with information and articles about the festival and ads from supporters. A hemp clothing fashion show will provide more distractions for the passing throngs. And as usual, the festival will feature plenty of live music, vendors, information on the cannabis plant and thousands of cannabis legalization supporters over Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday, while football fans recover from Saturday’s revelry, Harvest Fest swings into its second day with more live music at Library Mall beginning at noon. Around 3:15, attendees will begin to line up for the highlight of this annual celebration, the parade from Library Mall to the State St. Steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol for a rally and concert with the great Madison reggae band Nama Rupa.
The weekend really kicks off Friday night from 5-8pm at the Frequency Nightclub at 121 W. Main just off Capitol Square for the 9th Annual Is My Medicine Legal YET? (IMMLY) medical cannabis benefit. The event will be emceed by California cannabis comedian Ngaio Bealum, and will feature music, medical cannabis discussions, vending from Madison NORML, and live music. Headlining is Utopian Rag who, under various names have played at all previous 8 editions of this event going back to its days at Madison’s historic Cardinal Bar. Also on the bill is Brok’n Arrow, and there will be a short bonus set from Cher and Brian McCullough, two longtime activists.
Folks who appreciate the cannabis plant will know that the 41st Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival is the place to be this weekend, but for thousands of other who came to Madison for the football game or the World Dairy Expo, Harvest Fest may just be that pleasant pause that refreshes as they go about their day this weekend.