Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair (1968 -1969 – 1970)

A historic rock festival called the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair is being hosted outside of Sultan, Washington, on a raspberry farm along the Skykomish River. Explore the timelines and events unfolding at this biggest historic festival with ariversside.

The Inaugural Festival, which began on August 30 and lasted three days from August 31 to September 2, concluded on August 30, 1968. One of the first multi-day outdoor rock concerts in America took place there.

The event was held in Washougal, Washington from August 28 to September 8, 1970, and again in Tenino, Washington for Labor Day weekends on August 30 and September 1, 1969.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1968

On April 28, 1968, some 3,000 rock fans watched a performance at a ranch in Duvall, Washington, where a standing piano had been dropped from a helicopter earlier in the day. Later that year, two events that drew inspiration from the incident were the Sky River Rock Festival and the Lighter Than Air Fair.

To see this seismic occurrence and see Country Joe and the Fish perform, almost 3,000 inquisitive people made the trek to tiny Duvall. Betty Nelson’s “organic raspberry” farm, which is close to Sultan, has been named as the festival’s location. August 28 to September 3 of 1968 saw the occurrence.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1968

Even though there were no more seats available, numerous individuals showed up anyhow and broke in. Although the organizers claim to have lost $6,000, the money will be donated to the Central Region Peace, the Foundation for American Indian Rights, and the Mexican American Federation of Washington.

A millennium, or three days, flew by in the blink of an eye. The final segment of “It’s a Beautiful Day” was completed on September 2 in the late afternoon. A final fleet of vans, VW buses, and vans went south into the outside world once the stage had been disassembled, tented, cable coiled, and trash removed.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1969

The second Sky River rock concert took place south of Olympia, close to Tenino. The second Sky River Rock event didn’t have the same level of success as the previous one because outdoor rock concerts had already gained popularity nationwide at the time. The act of taking in something wonderful for the first time might be challenging for many people.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1969

In 1969, the festival took place in Tenino, Washington during Labor Day Weekends on August 30 and September 1. Along with Buddy Guy, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, Country Joe and the Fish, James Cotton, and others are on the bill.

Claiming that noise might harm the cows, the landowners and the Tenino Chamber of Commerce launched a lawsuit. The festival was halted by the local court, but the State Supreme Court overcame them to approve it the day before it began. It took place in the Rainier Hereford Ranch, a mainly arid grassland area south of Olympia near Tenino. An estimate of 30,000 people attended.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1970

In 1970, Washougal, Washington, hosted Sky River III. One of the longest-running events, it lasted for 10 days from August 28 to September 8 and on some days had a daily attendance of more than 10,000. On the event poster, more than 40 bands were listed. The music at every Sky River event is excellent and very hippie. There are a lot of events for the alternative lifestyle with over 10,000 people attending each day and 40 bands playing for 10 days.

Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1970

At the Sky River Rock Festival in 1970, the core of the Pirates of the Air animators collaborative came together. Ted Richards and Bobby London, who were from the Bay Area, met Shary Flenniken and Dan O’Neill at the media booth, where Flenniken was working on the script for the daily Sky River newsletter. Before the festival was through, the four of them created Sky River Funnies, a four-page tabloid comic that was primarily illustrated by London.


In that it took place for three years straight, from 1968 to 1970, the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair is exceptional, if not unique. It was fantastic for those who were enthusiastic about music at the time. Everyone is enthused since it is all like a legend that is now mentioned.

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