Sky River Rock Festival

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Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair
GenreRock, psychedelic rock, blues
DatesLabor Day Weekend
Location(s)Skykomish River, Sultan, Tenino, Washougal, Washington, United States
Years active1968–1970
Capacity13,000 (tickets)

The Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair was a historic rock festival held on a raspberry farm on the Skykomish River outside Sultan, Washington. It was first held between August 31 to September 2, 1968. It was the first multi-day outdoor hippie rock festival at an undeveloped site.[citation needed] The line-up included bands such as the Grateful Dead and Santana.[1] The festival was held the next year on August 30 and September 1, 1969 in Tenino, Washington, and finally on August 28 until September 8, 1970 in Washougal, Washington.[2]



"The Piano Drop": On April 28 1968, approximately 3,000 fans attended a rock concert at a farm in Duvall, Washington where an upright piano was dropped from a helicopter. Performances included Country Joe and the Fish. This event inspired the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair which occurred later that year.[3]

The first Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter than Air Fair', took place on August 28 through September 3, 1968; the town of Sultan, Washington was visited by approximately 4,000-5,000 young people during the festival.[2] Though the event was ticketed, many people showed up without tickets and snuck in. The promoters claimed to have lost $6,000, although proceeds were to be donated to the Mexican American Federation of Washington, the Foundation for American Indian Rights and the Central Area Peace and Improvement Cooperative.[1] The Camlin Hotel hosted performers for the festival.[citation needed]

Bands and musicians scheduled in the lineup were; the Grateful Dead, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish, Richard Pryor, Dino Valente, Freedom Highway, Blues Feedback, Sandy Bull, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, John Fahey, Byron Pope Ensemble, H.P. Lovecraft, Pink Floyd (On the poster but was in Europe at the time and did not play), Country Weather, Easy Chair, Floating Bridge, Frumious Bandersnatch, New Lost City Ramblers, It's a Beautiful Day, My Indole Ring, Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck, Billy Roberts, Alice Stuart Thomas, Josh White, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Juggernaut, Phoenix, Sons of Champlin, Mystic Knights of the Sea, Gale Garnett's band The Gentle Reign (sans Garnett), The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Marble Farm, The Allman Joys, Black Snake Boogie, Flamin' Groovies, Salvation, Anonymous Artists of America.[citation needed][4]


The festival was held on August 30 and September 1, 1969, in Tenino, Washington.[2]


Sky River III was held 1970 in Washougal, Washington. One of the longest-duration festivals, lasting 10 days from August 28 until September 8, with daily attendance in excess of 10,000 on some days. Over 40 bands were featured on the event posters.[5]

In 1970 the nucleus of the Air Pirates cartoonist collective met at the Sky River Rock Festival. Bay Area residents Ted Richards and Bobby London met Shary Flenniken and Dan O'Neill at the media booth, where Flenniken was producing a daily Sky River newsletter on a mimeograph machine. Before the festival was over the four of them produced a four-page tabloid comic, Sky River Funnies, mostly drawn by London.[6]


In 1971, the Festival venue changed and was held (for the last time) at a farm by the Satsop River, in Grays Harbor County, Washington, billed as "The Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races". However, although they were there, along with the Ikettes, Ike and Tina Turner are not mentioned on other sites, despite a few pages with descriptions of the festival and other musicians.[citation needed] Some of the other acts being: Country Joe & the Fish; Jesse Colin Young (as key member of The Youngbloods); Eric Burdon and War; the Steve Miller Band; Quicksilver Messenger Service; Earth, Wind & Fire and more.[7]


In 1968 Billy Roberts played at the Sky River Rock Festival, and jammed with Big Mama Thornton, James Cotton, and members of the Grateful Dead.[8] His friend Dino Valenti was also on the bill.[2] The event took place on a farm near town. The line-up included Santana, Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Country Joe and the Fish, It's a Beautiful Day, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, John Fahey and guitarist Sandy Bull.

Colby Street performed with Sue Draheim (Tenino, Washington in 1968 and 1969), called themselves "Dr. Humbead's New Tranquility String Band and Medicine Show". The band consisted of Sue Draheim, Jim Bamford, Mac Benford, and Will Spires.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Paul de Barros (2011-08-12). "1968's Sky River Rock Festival revisited Friday". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  2. ^ a b c d Sky River poster. SKY RIVER ROCK FESTIVAL AND LIGHTER THAN AIR FAIR - III. The Sky River Story
  3. ^ Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 110-112, 255.
  4. ^ "Photographic image of poster". Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter than Air Fair III". 1970-09-08. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  6. ^ Patrick Rosenkranz (2002). Rebel visions: the underground comix revolution, 1963-1975. Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 978-1-56097-464-2.
  7. ^ "ROCK Festival, SATSOP RIVER, flyers (2) handbill RARE! | #171273195". Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Music & nightlife | 1968's Sky River Rock Festival revisited Friday | Seattle Times Newspaper". December 11, 2014.
  9. ^ "North California Groups - Dr. Humbead'S New Tranquility String Band And Medicine Show". 1966-10-15. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  10. ^ Malone, Bill C. (2011). Music from the True Vine: Mike Seeger's Life and Musical Journey. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p.153. ISBN 0807835102

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