Oregon is the only state that has ever paid for and sponsored a rock festival. In August 1970, the American Legion held its conference in Portland and invited Richard Nixon to be its keynote speaker. In May of that year, 31 activists were hospitalized after protests took place in the Park Blocks near Portland State University. These protests were not only a reaction to the Vietnam War, but also to the death of four students at Kent State, and the proposed shipping of nerve gas to the Umatilla Army Base. The FBI warned then-governor Tom McCall that he should prepare for 25,000 Legionnaires and 50,000 protestors. The People's Army Jamboree was the group of activists leading the protest. A faction of this group called The Family approached Governor McCall with the idea of sponsoring a rock festival to encourage protestors away from the convention, yet still give them a platform to voice their concerns. McCall agreed to the plan, as he considered a festival to be the most viable option to prevent the very real threat of violence. This meant that law enforcement had to turn a blind eye to drugs and nudity and allow thousands of young people to camp out in a public park. A Republican who was up for re-election, McCall referred to his choice as "political suicide." Vortex I: A Biodegradable Festival of Life took place in Estacada from August 28 through September 3, 1970. This musical is loosely based on the Vortex I story.
Part of Fertile Ground: A City-wide Festival of New Works