What a difference a year makes at the Emerald Cup. After the longtime North Coast cannabis awards celebration became a muddy mess last year, a new events management company responsible for massive crowd-pleasers like Outside Lands, has brought new life and a new vibe to Santa Rosa’s Emerald Cup. Held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Dec. 9-10, 2017, the event hosted about 50,000 attendees throughout the weekend.
Though when you’re trying to get up to the dab rigs, it seems like closer to 100,000, with tents and halls packed literally wall-to-wall with cannabis enthusiasts.
The Emerald Cup, founded by Tim Blake is “part trade show, part party, the post-harvest gathering, now in its 17th year, according to Press Democrat reporter, Kevin McCallum. “(It) provides cultivators and their customers the chance to reconnect and celebrate their abiding passion for sun-grown bud,” reported McCallum.
A few noticeable differences on Saturday:
- The new enclosed tents, which are connected inside, offer a more intimate experience and allow attendees to wander and browse inside rather than go from tent to tent outdoors. A little thing, but adding floors to the tents made for a more comfortable experience, without mud pits and dead grass underfoot. Classy.
- Noticeably fewer “dab girls” dressed in barely there outfits hawking dabs. More gals in baseball caps and flannel, actual growers, producers and owners representing their own products. Makes for a more educational, less disconcerting experience.
- Less dab rigs in general. In previous years, attendees could go from booth to booth sampling products, often to excess. This year’s show was more grown up, with plenty of samples, but in less overt ways. A more buy-before-you-try vibe.
- And entire tent dedicated to solventless extracts with live rosin pressing. Very cool.
- Much more adult branding. “Some of these companies are going to be national in a few years,” said Blake. With the mature branding, products and messaging, it’s hard to doubt that may soon be true.
- Amazing food: In the past, food at the festival has been ho-hum at best. Food trucks, a beer garden with pizza stands, barbecue, kettle corn and even oysters made the event feel more fleshed out.