The Vortex I festival, a unique occurrence in U.S. history as the only state-sponsored rock concert, was held in Oregon. This event was strategically planned to coincide with President Nixon’s visit to showcase the peaceful aspects of the anti-War Movement and to deter any potential violent protests during the President’s scheduled appearance in the state. The festival took place at Milo McIver State Park and drew a crowd estimated between 30,000 and 100,000 people. As there was no admission fee, the gates were left open, and as a result, there were no precise attendance records.
On the festival’s peak day, a line of cars stretched for 18 miles (30 km) from the park entrance to southeast Portland. In an agreement with the governor, both the police and the Oregon National Guard largely turned a blind eye to non-violent offenses such as public nudity and drug use, both of which were observed at the festival. The event earned the nickname “The Governor’s Pot Party.”
The festival’s success in maintaining peace was likely helped by President Nixon’s last-minute cancellation. Both the American Legion convention and the anti-war activities of the Jamboree proceeded without any significant disruptions. The festival proved to be an effective strategy for preventing violence; there were no instances of interpersonal violence or harm, and property damage in Portland was minimal, limited to a single broken window.