Report of two Washington State Patrol troopers on their undercover surveillance of the Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races rock festival is submitted on September 20, 1971.

  • By John Caldbick
  • Posted 4/17/2019
  • Essay 20758
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On September 20, 1971, two Washington State Patrol troopers submit a report to patrol Captain E. C. Armstrong recounting the five days they have spent working undercover at the Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races rock festival. Troopers D. G. Stathas and J. D. Young posed as concessions workers, and were directed to observe but not arrest. The troopers lived in a camper parked just outside the festival grounds and would spend most of every day moving around in the crowd, observing and taking photographs. Although their report evinces shock and disgust at some of what they observed, it at times hints at genuine concern for the difficulties faced by festival participants. A document of its time, its overall tone reflects the chasm that then separated the youth counterculture from the larger society. It is presented here in unedited form, with only two names redacted. The accompanying photos, other than the aerial view, were taken by the two officers.


Inter-Office Communication


To: Captain E. C. Armstrong, General Support 
Date: September 20, 1971
From: Troopers D. G. Stathas and J. D. Young
Subject: Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races

On September 2, 1971 we attended the Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races for five days. Listed below are several observations that should prove interesting to the department.


We attempted to estimate the size of the crowd at the festival. By using the University of Washington football stadium as a guide. When we first arrived on Thursday afternoon we noted the attendance at 4,000 inside and 3,000 outside. By Friday noon it had increased to 20,000. That afternoon the people were coming in so fast that the promoters refused entrance to anyone with camping gear. By that evening the attendance had doubled to 40,000 people. Saturday afternoon we felt that the crowd was at its maximum of 60,000 to 70,000 people. After the heavey rain early Sunday morning attendance had dropped to 40,000 and then down to 30,000 by that evening.


Most of the festival goers felt that the parking was the worst they had ever encountered. If it weren't for some of the local people opening their land for parking, we felt that the parking problem could have become a very serious situation. Within the parking lots we noticed a possible health problem in that no sanitation facilities had been provided for the several thousand people that were living out of their cars, campers, and vans. The busing that was provided seemed to irritate the people more just by not running on a set schedule and by the general confusion it caused.


The security around the festival boundaries was very strict at first mainly because the guards were using horses for mobility. The kids respected the horses so illegal entry was almost non-existent until Saturday. Due to a salary dispute the security guards then relaxed their patrols and we estimated that two to three thousand people entered the festival without paying.

Apparently most or all of the motorcycle gangs had entered without paying. Everyone was scared of the "bikers." The ticket takers and security at the main gate made no effort at all to check for drugs or weapons upon entering the site.

Upon hearing the radio broadcast of counterfeit tickets we expected difficulty upon re-entering the site. However the guards showed no concern about the tickets. In fact we found it easier then before to enter. We never saw or heard of anyone having a counterfeit ticket.


We received a thorough education as far as drugs were concerned. The drug situation alone was the most serious element of the whole festival. The quantity of drugs, as stated by a army medic volunteer, was so plentiful that there was enough narcotics to keep every man, woman, and child happy for the four days. The quality of the drugs being sold ranged from good to very bad. The use of drugs was also very evident outside of the festival grounds, especially in the parking lots.

The people that were camped on both sides of our camper mainly smoked marijuana, however, they did take barbituates in small doses. We saw every type of drug being sold except heroin. We did observe two teenagers shooting what was believed to be heroin by using a hyperdermic needle. On one occassion a man had bought some cocaine in front of our camping site. Afterwards the seller and buyer agreed to sniff the cocaine together. They asked for and received the use of our camper to "snort" the "coke." We then observed them sniff the cocaine up their nostrils. During all of the festival we were continually offered marijuana smokes but never free barbituates or amphetamines.

Open Door Clinic:

We were aware of the Open Door Clinic but when one of us became injured on a barbwire fence we were able to see inside for the first time while receiving treatment for the injury. After entering the treatment center (a house trailer) you had to sit on an army cot that was covered with dirt, mud, straw, and blood and the floors were extremely filthy. Whatever medical equipment they used was never cleaned afterwards. The Open Door Clinic personnel appeared to be efficient and organised but very understaffed. One attendant stated that they had more overdose cases then ever anticipated. While being treated a drug victim was admitted with severe stomach cramps. It was learned that he had taken some "Blue Acid" (too much strychnine). The victim stated that the acid was being passed out free and that at least 40 people had taken it without knowing it was bad acid.

Many of the injuries that were treated at the Open Door Clinic were reported to have occurred from broken glass and debris left on the grounds.


There were six motorcycle clubs at the festival. They were the Banditos, Iron Lords, Free Souls, Outsiders, Shifters, and the Gypsey Jokers. They were reported to be all armed with weapons or had access to them leaving us to believe that the weapons were being brought in by vehicle. One of the Banditos was seen carrying a shotgun in the open.

The Iron Lords had a concession selling corn on the cob and hamburgers. Most of the clubs remained apart and did not appear to be friendly towards each other. They openly smoked marijuana, drank wine and occassionaly used amphetamines. The clubs had general run of the place without any interference due to the fear they generated. We talked to one dope pusher who stated he owed money to one of the clubs and that he was selling cocaine to obtain money to pay them back. He was desperate and in fear of loosing his life. All the clubs did a considerable amount of drinking and the more consumed the more dangerous they became.

Staff Jobs:

We had obtained staff tickets to enter the festival to work and yet later a truck pass for our camper. We were supposed to work for Western Washington Concessions Inc. The two people in charge were (redacted) and (redacted), both from Seattle. After considerable thought we decided against working at the concession because it limited our movements for at least eight hours every day. Beside this was why we never took our vehicle into the site. It would have hampered our mobility, cover and privacy.

When we first contacted the concession owners they advised us that they would take us to Montesano to obtain the required health certificates. The following day, Friday, they then told us to disregard getting the certificates because it was too late for the Health Board to enforce the regulations.

Health Standards:

The health standards had deteriorated so rapidly by Saturday that if the festival had continued for a few more days an epidemic could have resulted. The 60 or so sani-cans were inadequate when the attendance reached 70,000. There were only three or four main garbage collection points on the 77 acres. Only one of them, a trailer, was able to contain the debris. The rest were just large piles that were seldomed picked up. After the second day most of the festival goers completely disregarded the toilet and garbage facilities. They just discarded their debris where ever they felt. After the first day the water system never functioned properly. With some electrical underground wiring mixed with the heavy rains produced yet another hazard. The main roads on the site were well prepared yet after the rain they became a sea of mud. We feel that if the promoters had at least two weeks to prepare the site and better governmental control most of these problems could have been eliminated.


We had observed more weapons at this festival then any previous one. We saw one shotgun, two rifles and many pistols. The pistols were mostly of the automatic variety and were carried generally in the back packs or sleeping bags. The rifles were brought in mostly by vehicle. It was estimated that 80% of the men carried hunting knifes of various lengths on their belts. In fact we considered this a part of our disguise. Early Friday morning we did hear a high powered rifle shot on the site.

Language Barrier:

The people who attended this type of function generally have their own special slang terms. We felt that from prior experience we would not have any difficulty with the language barrier, however, it later proved out that there was still much to be learned. The biggest barrier we encountered was the slang terms used in reference to drugs. A few of the terms commonly used were; speed, criss-crosses, blue acid, snort, brown, pink and white coke, black beauties, Christmas trees, "J", Arizona weed, spacey, truckin, yellow sunshine, and etc. Once we understood the meaning and how to use them we became more proficient and accepted without question. This experience will definitely benefit us later on future undercover assignments.


We took a total of 107 pictures in and around the festival site. Unfortunately only 90 frames turned out. We attempted to photograph situations that would show the over-all conditions at the festival. One of us was approached by a festival undercover security guard reference taking pictures but apparently our cover convinced him that we were not a narcotic's agent. It is our belief that if we had been better prepared in being informed and equipped for taking photographs prior to the festival we could have been more efficient than we were.


The most discouraging thing that we had observed other than the use of narcotics was the almost total disregard for the welfare of babies and young children by both the parents and the promoters. There were many children under the age of 2 years wandering around naked through the mud and garbage. There were several thousand kids under the age of sixteen who were not accompanied by an adult. The ticket takers at the main gate to our knowledge never did check for proof of age. Also prior to the festival the ticket outlet agencies never questioned the age requirement before selling the tickets.


Due to our special staff passes we were able to walk freely through the concession area without restrictions. In this area where open food was sold we could not help but notice many health violations mainly due to the equipment being used and the people serving it.

There were some concessions soliciting literature reference religion communism, marijuana and various other organisations. There was one booth selling cigarettes for 50 cents a pack that had the State of Oregon tax stamp on them. There was also a cigarette stand run by Indians selling cut rate smokes. The prices were generally high and this apparently made many of the festival goers unhappy, however, no one really seemed to lack money to purchase with.


Overall nudity was very noticeable. There were more men completely nude than women, however, the women numbered in the hundreds that decided to go topless. Nudity as a whole was caused by an unrestricted atmosphere and the influence of drugs and alcohol. The bad weather was the only restriction placed on nudity and kept many people from disrobeing completely. Babies and small children running completely nude were evident at all times during the festival.


Washington State Patrol Inter-Office Communication, "Satsop River Fair and Tin Cup Races," dated September 20, 1971, copy in possession of John Caldbick, Seattle.

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