Santa Rosa’s annual Emerald Cup adds LA awards event, will keep Santa Rosa harvest party

Annual cannabis celebration also continues with Santa Rosa harvest party in December.|

The Emerald Cup, hailed as the cannabis industry’s most cherished awards show, will move its annual presentation honoring growers and advocates from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles in March, organizers said Friday.

The winter cannabis event, held almost annually in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa since 2013, will continue there as a December harvest celebration, said Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake and his daughter Taylor Blake, the event’s associate producer.

The move is prompted by a desire to put the awards event center stage on a statewide level as the cannabis industry grows.

“The main awards ceremony will move to L.A., bridging the gap between Northern and Southern California. Los Angeles is the media capital of the nation and the largest market for cannabis,” Tim Blake said.

The Emerald Cup will eventually become a statewide competition, he predicted, and the March dates, yet to be announced, will allow more time for growers to submit entries for the awards competition and more time for judging.

“We moved the event from the Emerald Triangle (the cannabis-growing region in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties) to Santa Rosa years ago, and now we’re expanding the triangle to include the whole state,” he added.

Both father and daughter live in Mendocino County, Tim in Laytonville and Taylor outside Willits.

The Los Angeles venue for the Emerald Cup awards hasn’t been announced yet, but negotiations are underway, Taylor Blake said.

“We’re not abandoning Santa Rosa,” Tim Blake said. “The tribe can still come together, although I imagine it will be somewhat smaller.”

The Santa Rosa event will be held indoors Dec. 11-12 at the fairgrounds in Grace Pavilion and the Hall of Flowers, with live music mostly by Northern California talent, he said. Moving the entire event indoors will be an advantage, he predicted.

“In December, we sometimes had issues with rain,” he said.

The fairgrounds management expressed enthusiasm for continuing its relationship with the event.

“The Emerald Cup is a great event and provides significant economic benefit to the city of Santa Rosa and the surrounding communities,” said Rebecca Bartling, chief executive officer for the Sonoma County Fair and its fairgrounds event center in Santa Rosa. “We are looking forward to its return to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in December.”

While shifting the awards event to Los Angeles might disappoint some local fans and participants in the event, Tim Blake hopes for continued support.

“The farmers, vendors and contestants all realize that the best place to be is in the center of the market,” he said.

The Emerald Cup began in 2003 as an after-harvest party for clandestine Emerald Triangle growers in Mendocino County. It moved to Santa Rosa in 2013.

The event drew 25,000 people in 2019, but organizers canceled the Emerald Cup for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A virtual version of the event for 2021 happened last month.

Willie Nelson appeared in Santa Rosa in December 2018 to accept an award at the Emerald Cup event for his longtime cannabis activism. The musician is the founder of a recreational cannabis company named Willie’s Reserve.

In 2019, Tommy Chong of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong was presented with the second annual Willie Nelson Award, created to honor people who helped push marijuana into the mainstream.

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

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