Madison's Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival

MADISON: What began as an anti-war protest 40 years ago that soon morphed into a cannabis legalization rally will celebrate the beginning of its fifth decade October 1-3, 2010. The Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival has long been a fall ritual in Madison as much as University of Wisconsin Badger Football or Halloween on State St.

Sadly, this year will not be the anticipated celebration of the passage of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act but yet another call to action as the fight for reefer sanity rages on both in Wisconsin, and much more successfully in other states.

The 40th Annual Harvest Fest will follow the format used in recent years, a Friday evening benefit to kick off the weekend, live music, speakers, informational tabling and vending on Saturday afternoon at the Library Mall at the end of State St., and Sunday’s traditional Parade to the Capitol for a concert and rally.


HF35  Dr. Mikuriya, Keith Stroup, Ben Masel.

According to the brand new Harvest Fest website, the 2010 festival will feature a not only some familiar faces but also some new ones. Festival organizer Ben Masel, who has been the driving force behind Harvest Fest for the last 38 years, will be speaking along with Wisconsin colleagues Gary Storck and Jacki Rickert. Their fellow “Medical Marijuana Commando Squad” member, Jim Miller from New Jersey, is also returning.

NORML Founder Keith Stroup, who last spoke at Harvest Fest 35 in 2005, is also on the bill again this year. And a retired judge from California, Judge Jim Gray, will be making his first Harvest Fest appearance this year. Also returning is Mason Tvert, a Colorado activist and the Founder of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), who spoke at HF 39 last year.


Judge Jim Gray

The festival will also feature a great array of homegrown Wisconsin music across a range of genres. Returning favorites include Nama Rupa, Baghdad Scuba Review, Ifdakar and Groovulous Glove with more to be announced. Bands appearing for the first time include Phish tribute band Phun and Milwaukee reggae band, Recalcitrant.

The Friday night event, the 8th Annual IMMLY/Madison NORML Medical Cannabis Benefit, happens at the Frequency at 121 W. Main, a block from the Capitol. Music will be provided by Brok’n Arrow and the Shanahan-Riddiough Band, and as with the prior seven events, will feature the traditional sing along version of the Wisconsin medical cannabis anthem, “Legal Medicine Blues”.

The fact this is the 40th speaks to not only Madison’s place as a cannabis-friendly town as well as the fact that this is also a protest against marijuana prohibition, a protest that will be entering its FIFTH decade this October when number 40 convenes.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have attended Harvest Fest over these years. Almost everyone who has lived in Madison has a HF story, even if just from crossing paths with the parade or passing through on the way to a Badger football game. The magic starts again Oct. 1.