Emerald Cup Harvest Ball returns to Sonoma County Fairgrounds featuring E-40, over 100 vendors
The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball, Northern California’s largest annual cannabis festival, returns Saturday and Sunday. The festival, slated to bring more than 30,000 people to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, offers various thrills for cannabis enthusiasts, from more than 100 cannabis vendors, art and musical performances to panel discussions and beer gardens.
“It means the world to us. This is our culture,” said Tim Blake, Emerald Cup’s founder. “I’m excited for the community to come together, really stand together, celebrate and mourn.”
The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball is known as the fall harvest “after-party” and kickoff for the 19th annual Emerald Cup competition. An awards show, the Emerald Cup Awards, honoring the event’s best marijuana strains and other cannabis products, follows in May in Los Angeles.
Last year, the festival attracted 30,000 over the two-day weekend event. In 2019, the Emerald Cup, the cherished award show held annually at the fairgrounds since 2013, drew 25,000 people.
“It’s amazing to see how quickly cannabis is being embraced,” said Blake, who’s been in the cannabis business for over 50 years. “It’s been a wild ride watching the industry evolve all these years.”
The cannabis culture seeps into all aspects of this festival, including the music. Musical artists E-40, Channel Tres, Flamingosis and Fleetmac Wood are set to perform on the Emerald Stage or Redwood Stage for a crowd of cannabis lovers.
“People listened to E-40 during what some considered the golden era of cannabis,” said Kenneth Loo, head of communications for the event. “The artists truly speak to the community.”
The festival’s Emerald Cup Sessions, held in the Garden Annex, will comprise discussions on psychedelic trip planning, lessons learned from Proposition 64, regenerative cannabis farming and small farms.
A lineup of nearly 50 leaders, founders, teachers and others in the cannabis industry will also speak at the Garden Annex during the festival. And some 20 small farms from across the North Bay will showcase their products at booths.
“We’re giving a platform to the small farms,” Blake said. “We’re doing everything we can to help our small farms survive.”
On Saturday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program will moderate a panel with grant recipients, including the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, Sun + Earth and cannabis cultivator Casey O’Neill of HappyDay Farms.
The panel from noon to 12:45 p.m. will cover grants that can help cannabis cultivators with increasing biodiversity, reducing erosion and conserving water, and help cultivators transition from provisional to annual licenses, according to a news release.
The awards aspect was moved to Los Angeles in March 2021, a change prompted by the desire to put the awards show center stage on a statewide level. The celebratory aspect of the event remains as the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball in Santa Rosa.
“It’s all about enjoying this year’s bounty,” said Joe Sullivan, director of procurement at Mercy Wellness dispensary in Sonoma County. “It’s a time for celebration, but it’s also a call for action. We need to support our small farms. They’ve been hit hard.”
For the Emerald Cup competition, about 20 judges examine a strain’s effects, aroma and taste, said Sullivan, who’s judged strains for the last four years. Last year, the Emerald Cup competition had more than 700 entries in 50 categories.
The Emerald Cup began in 2003 as an after-harvest party for clandestine Emerald Triangle growers in Mendocino County. In 2013, it moved to Santa Rosa.
“The event is really beautiful,” Blake said. “We’re there to support one another. We need each other.”
You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at email@example.com. On Twitter @searchingformya.
General Assignment/Features Reporter
Stories can inspire you, make you laugh, cry and sometimes, heal. I love a feature story that can encapsulate all of those things. I cover the interesting people that exist around us, art and music that move us and the hidden gems that make Sonoma County pretty cool. Let's explore those things together.
UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy: