Billows of smoke rose up from the Sonoma County Fairgrounds last weekend as the 13th Annual Emerald Cup cannabis competition blazed up.
In the wake of the passing of Prop 64, the best buds in Northern California were all brought together to be tasted, tested and tried against one another like never before. Cannabis industry experts and vendors manned countless stations throughout the grounds. In the general admission area, lighting experts, soil vendors, guard dog trainers, glass blowers and the like had all set up booths exhibiting their expertise along with delicious food vendors.
Patients with Prop 215 medical recommendations were verified by staff and given an RX bracelet which allowed access to a whole new world within the grounds. Booth after booth were giving away free samples of their products: pre-rolled joints, edible candies and dabs for any patient that risked the rest of the day with their potent products.
A sign of the changing times, cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers were restricted to small, fenced-off areas while groups gathered in the grandstands and roamed free around the grounds – pungent clouds rising – smoking each other's samples.
The Emerald Cup lit up the joint with the musical entertainment
Old-timers put their experience to the test against newcomers' modern methods in 5 categories of product competition: Flowers, Concentrates, Edibles, Tinctures and Topicals. Each entry was pitted against one another in CBD content as well.
The Dookie Brothers out of Humboldt took the 1st place trophy back to the farm in the Flower category with their Zkittles strain, as 3rd Gen/Terp Hogz/Dying Breed won two subdivisions in the Concentrates category. Utopia Farms took home 1st place in the Edibles category with their Macaroon. Full contest winners are listed here, on the Emerald Cup website.
Though the cannabis competition was the “main event” of this festival, The Emerald Cup lit up the joint with the musical entertainment as well. Collie Buddz was seemingly ever-present, headlining the Friday night pre-party and the Sunday night afterparty at Mystic theater as well as making a special guest appearance during Stick Figure's Saturday night performance.
The California Honeydrops brought a much welcomed blues/R&B vibe to the primarily reggae lineup, which included acts such as Kabaka Pyramid, HIRIE, Thrive, Arden Park Roots and the Grammy-nominated newcomers, Raging Fyah.
The Saturday night headliner, Damian Marley, attracted an over-capacity crowd, which left a sour taste in some festival goers' mouths. Many of them purchased Saturday-only tickets primarily to catch the performance by the legendary Bob Marley's youngest son.
“Overall the festival was a great success. With any significant event, it has its challenges and the Emerald Cup was no different. We went through a lot of growing pains this year, and we are dealing with the issues that did come up and looking at ways to improving the festival goer experience for 2017. As far as the capacity issues on Saturday…Well we as an event take responsibility for that one. The issue is: the overall festival has a certain capacity, and Grace Pavillion has its own capacity. The event is a Cannabis event with many different layers and music is just one small piece of that. It is not an excuse for paying customers to be locked out of the show and we will make adjustments to avoid that for 2017 and beyond,” said Executive Producer, Dan Sheehan.