Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa expects big weekend crowd – Saturday sold out

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The Emerald Cup runneth over.

Organizers of the two-day marijuana extravaganza at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds announced Friday afternoon that Saturday tickets are sold out with only Sunday tickets remaining.

The popularity of the 13th annual event, expected to draw a record 30,000 people, speaks to the jubilance of cannabis lovers in the wake of last month’s vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use, said event founder Tim Blake.

“It’s a massive celebration,” Blake said Friday. “We’re getting rid of 80 years of Reefer Madness.”

Last year’s event drew about 21,000 people. Gates open Saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $70.

The Emerald Cup, dubbed by insiders as the Academy Awards of the pot industry, started in Mendocino County in 2003 and moved to Santa Rosa in 2013.

It features a country fair-like competition to identify the best seeds, plants, edibles and other cannabis products. More than 1,100 entries — up from 850 last year — include 140 pounds of carefully trimmed bud.

Winning the equivalent of a blue ribbon in any category brings prestige. It can also lead to a windfall for contestants who command more for their products with the recognition. A single winning seed has been known to fetch $50, Blake said.

“It’s like wine,” Blake said. “You win these gold medals and it’s tremendous for the brand.”

The event is also a celebration of cannabis culture with sampling for medical marijuana card holders, food and music. Bob Marley’s son, Damian Marley, is headlining a long list of entertainers.

An educational panel of cannabis experts and government officials, including state Assemblyman Jim Wood of Healdsburg, will speak about upcoming regulation.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.