July 25, 2016

How Moisture Festival Came To Hale's Palladium

By Steve Wacker

Today’s Moisture Festival fans probably don’t give much thought to the performance space known as Hale’s Palladium or how the Festival grew into it. It’s not too involved a story, actually, but it shines a light on how a community-minded business organization was able to find a way to support the community.

The Festival is successful in part because it focuses on fun – it believes in shared laughter as an important aspect of community, and it also supports independent artists. We all love to laugh, but multiplying the mirth is one of the Festival‘s core challenges as it continues to expand its audience. Although it’s now spread across multiple venues, the Festival’s beginnings were much more humble.

One of these days we’ll reach into the wayback machine and find out more about what inspired the Festival’s founders, but one thing is clear: performers need a space in which they can perform. They need a setting in which to establish a scene – they need a venue.

When the first Moisture Festival was held in 2004, the venue was a tent in the heart of Fremont, near where the Redhook Brewery was located at the time. Phil O’Brien of Hale’s Ales recently related a story that Moisture Festival co-founder Ron W. Bailey is also fond of telling.

Being the savvy and entrepreneurial impresario that he is, Ron knows that appropriate liquid refreshment can help lubricate the machinery of mirth. During the flurry of activities surrounding the inaugural season of the Festival, someone mentioned that Mike Hale was a generous guy and had something of a reputation for supporting community spirit. So a request was made – could you spare any beer?

By this time (2004) Hale’s was well established in Seattle. Mike Hale founded the company in 1983 in Colville WA, in the far northeastern part of the state, and he consolidated all operations in the current Fremont location in 1996. (Hale’s is still independently owned, by the way, and is run by a close-knit group of people who are proud to continue the tradition that Mike established.) And for many years, one of the ways that Hale kept in touch with his brewery’s customers was by making deliveries himself.

First Moisture Festival Tickets - 2004
So amidst the hubbub of the first Moisture Festival, someone came in with a keg of beer and asked where he should put it. After that detail was worked out, Ron W. Bailey said to the deliveryman “Say thanks to Mike Hale for us – we really appreciate it.” The deliveryman responded with “I’m Mike Hale! You’re welcome!” And a relationship was born that continues to this day.

Mike Hale was able to perceive how the Moisture Festival could enhance the community. Whether he had a vision as grand as that of Ron and Tim Furst we don’t really know – but the connection was made, and his company ended up being a major supporter of the Festival.

Hale’s Ales primarily used the space behind its brewing operations as a warehouse, but had established a tradition of using it each year to hold a Christmas party for their customers. When the Moisture Festival became aware of the space, they asked if they could use it to stage a benefit. One thing led to another, and it has since evolved into Hale’s Palladium, a community performance space that’s available for rental.

One of the Palladium’s regular tenants is the Fremont Players, a non-profit community theatre group dedicated to producing authentic British Panto every holiday season. And of course the other regular tenant is the Moisture Festival, along with its mission of spreading merriment and laughter throughout Seattle.

So now you know how Hale’s Ales, the longest running independently owned brewery in the Pacific Northwest, came to support the Moisture Festival. Thanks to Mike and everyone at Hale’s Ales!

Seattle's Moisture Festival of Comedy/Varietè, founded in 2004, is the largest and longest running comedy/varietè festival in the world. Learn more at http://www.moisturefestival.org/.
Thanks to Kirby Lindsay for background information.