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Hempfest app seeks to enhance the festival experience

The app for the self-described ?protestival? allows users to schedule their visit to the event, set reminders and locate other attendees. It also enables organizers to send push messages to encourage donations and disseminate other information. 

?Figuring out who is performing when, over three days, in a 1.5-mile-long park can be over whelming,? said Sharon Whitson, general manager and director of operations for? Seattle Events, the non-profit corporation producing Hempfest. ?The app allows people to schedule their experience and set reminders so they can maximize their experience.? 

The 2014 Seattle Hempfest, which bills itself at the world?s largest cannabis protest rally, begins Aug. 15. It includes more than 120 bands and 120 speakers on six different stages across three Seattle waterfront parks. Washington was one of two states that legalized cannabis, more popularly known as marijuana or pot, last year.

Enhancing the experience
The Seattle Hempfest app leverages a geofence that will allow it to disseminate messages to users within the fence. 

?This will allow relevant information to go directly to the people in park at the time the message is needed,? Ms. Whitson said. 

This can include notifications about lost children or other emergency notifications, or reminders to make donations, she said.

The app also includes an ?I Am Here? feature that allows attendees to connect with each other using GPS. 

?The ability to assure that you won't miss the speakers and bands that are most important to you is awesome,? said Ms. Whitson. "The ability for users to find each other is a cool part as well.?

Seattle Hempfest, now in its 23rd year, does not charge admission, but does accept donations. The organizers are using the app to send push notifications about making donations and purchasing memberships. The app also has links to the online store offering 2014 Seattle Hempfest merchandise for sale. 

Ms. Whitson said she will continue to use the app after Seattle Hempfest to keep people informed about membership events and volunteer opportunities. In addition, it will be used to promote events at specials at the Hempfest Central specialty store. 

The app was donated to Seattle Hempfest by Lyon Pride Music in conjunction with an effort to live stream Seattle Hempfest for the second year in a row.

Highlighting sponsors
Ms. Whitson said that in determining what functionality to include in the app, she observed the questions attendees had been asking via email and social media. She also said the organizers wanted to highlight the festival?s sponsors and vendors in the app. 

The app has space for banner ads, but the organizers are currently using them for internal purposes. 

?We do plan on integrating the banner ads into our sponsorship packages for 2015,? Ms. Whitson said. ?We also did sell the option of having an enhanced vendor listing to our vendors as well. It only generated $225 in revenue this year, but we look forward to developing this aspect further in the future.?
Final Take 

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York