Just shy of 50 years ago, the Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Race Rock Festival drew thousands to the 77-acre Reality Farm on East Satsop Road.
Hanging at the festival — which, depending on who you talk to, drew upward of 100,000 people over the four-day event, and acts including Eric Burdon, Spencer Davis and Peter Jameson, the Youngbloods, and Steve Miller Sept. 3-6, 1971 — was a colorful, hand painted 4-by-17 foot banner.
Not a lot is known about what happened to the banner, produced by the Spotless Sign Company in Seattle, in the decades that followed. That is, until Jeff Hammers, who currently resides in Spanaway and is a big collector of Northwest rock show posters, typed “festival posters” into an Offerup.com search about a year ago.
Up popped the banner, with a price tag of $475. Hammer didn’t hesitate, called the seller and met him the following day to make the exchange.
Shortly after procuring the banner, he started calling around to Grays Harbor historical societies, including the Museum of the North Beach in Moclips, seeing if they would be interested in the unique slice of county history. Randy Beerbower with the Chehalis Valley Historical Society got wind of it and contacted Hammer.
On Wednesday, Hammer traveled to Aberdeen’s D&R Events Center with the banner, meeting up with Beerbower, John Kirkwood, and well known rock photographer Darrell Westmoreland.
Hammer unfurled the banner, its colors still surprisingly bright after 50 years. Westmoreland photographed the banner, and the plan is to use the photos to create a reproduction, a vinyl copy, that could be shared by museums and at other times hang at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds in Elma.
Beerbower will have the reproduction made through his T-shirt shop, the Shirthouse, in Aberdeen.
The crew at the events center related old rock show stories during the process. Westmoreland said he was hired by the show’s organizers to shoot the entire festival. It was his first gig in the rock photography biz and he’s been at it ever since, documenting the Pacific Northwest music industry with many iconic images.
Kirkwood related the story how he, 19 at the time, snuck out to the festival, only to be busted by a photo from the festival published in an Oregon newspaper.
The original banner will continue to hang in Hammer’s home. While still in good shape for its age, it is too fragile for regular transport, which led to the idea for the vinyl reproduction.