Vortex I is the only state-sponsored rock festival in United States history.
The festival was held in 1970, during the Vietnam War, in order to prevent violence between 25,000 pro-war legionnaires and 50,000 anti-war demonstrators. Both groups had targeted Portland as a place of demonstration during Labor Day week. Governor Tom McCall, understanding the potential for wide-scale conflict, collaborated with long-haired hippies to find an alternative gathering for the anti-war demonstrators.
What they agreed on would result in Vortex I: A Biodegradable Festival of Life. At its peak, 40,000 people were in attendance at this state-sponsored festival, which was hosted 25 miles away from the city. The event was a success, and no one was harmed during the demonstrations in Portland. Vortex I is remembered as Oregon's Woodstock, a celebration of peace and love.
Interviewed are an artist who performed at the event, a writer who documented the event, an organizer who initially pitched the idea to the governor's office, and a Rainbow Family member who witnessed the naming of the Rainbow group at Vortex. Listen to how they constructed an alternative community for hippie ideologies to prevail.