“The Emerald Cup is one gathering that all cannabis enthusiasts should plan to attend…It is obvious why cannabis enthusiasts return to The Emerald Cup year after year. It was an experience like no other…”
– Vegas Cannabis Magazine
The Emerald Cup is Northern California’s premier destination for medicinal marijuana, while advancing the concept of sustainable, outdoor farming. Its reputation is firmly solidified as the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, medicinal cannabis competition in the world. As a group, The Emerald Cup prides itself in bringing together experts and educators in the cannabis field to our fellow farmers, patients, and patrons each year. It is a community celebration that has grown to become a global movement honoring the year’s finest, organic, sun-grown, medicinal cannabis harvest.
Rolling Stone called it “the Academy Awards of the cannabis industry,” other accolades include; “epic marijuana festival in Wine Country” – SF Gate, Smell The Truth, “best weed fest in the West-or any other direction” – North Bay Bohemian, “refreshing…Home To Top-shelf…Everything“ – Medical Jane.
What started out as a small friendly sun grown cannabis competition in Mendocino has evolved into an international lifestyle event. We are determined folks intent on spreading our message across the world. We’re teaching and inspiring everyone involved to live and farm organically. The Emerald Cup is a true gathering of our cannabis tribe. It’s where small craft farmers and industry leaders come together to present the highest quality cannabis products. Whatever you’re looking for in regards to cannabis, you’ll find it beyond your wildest imagination. It’s the party of the year with world class speakers, organic food vendors, California’s best cannabis, and amazing music artists.
Here’s how Tim Blake tells the story:
2003 – With no press, just some last minute posters, word of mouth, and 23 entries into the ganja contest, the first Emerald Cup was born. The crowd was small, with very few even willing to be in the venue with their faces seen, much less come forward for their prizes. Still, it was a wild night and everyone had a ball. Other than the inevitable undercover agents, it was pleasantly uneventful.
The next year we took the event more out front putting up more posters, talking to more people, pushing the envelope. Slowly, we crept into the light. 43 entries were put up, and the bud was overall much better than the year before; because then, growers had begun growing their plants in the full sun.
By the third annual Emerald Cup, cannabis farmers had medical permits and everyone was growing in the full sun. “Marijuana” was blooming right into mainstream America. The fourth year we had 51 entries. In 2009 there were 91 entries, all organic, grown in the sun as God intended.
The Emerald Cup was the only cannabis event in the United States for 7 years.
Rolling Stone Magazine did a feature on the cup that year, proclaiming it to the “Academy Awards of the cannabis industry.”
In 2010, we had our banner year with 130 entries. We had grown truly grown from being an Emerald Triangle based contest into a statewide competition. The winning flower entry was for a strain called “Best Sour Shit Ever”. This was the first year of lab testing the entries for THC potency and for cannabinoids. The results were in and proved something that has been a constant throughout the Cups history. The winners, since we started testing, have never had the highest THC count. It’s a combination of the THC, the Terpenes, and the Cannabinoids that produce the overall quality.
In 2011, this was the year where all hell broke loose. The Feds raided the legitimate farmers who were licensed by the County of Mendocino, and we almost shut down the event. I decided to go forward at the last minute, and it turned into a rallying point for not only the local folks, but the state and national cannabis community as well. The winner that year was a strain called “Green Crack”.
Up to this point, the Cup had no substantial speaker panels or sponsors. It was still just a last minute, fly by the seat of our pants production. John Vergados, the founder of Skunk magazine, sponsored us that year. He, along with my co-producer Samantha Mikolajewski, really worked on me to move the Cup to a larger, more easier to produce facility. It worked. In 2012 we moved north to the Mateel Community Center, flying the coup of our quaint little home at Area 101. Humboldt graciously accepted us, we had over 200 flower entries and over 1500 attendees. Aficionado won the flower contest with their ChemDawg strain.
In 2013, we moved to the Sonoma County fairgrounds. We had about eight thousand attendees and 260 entries, with half of them from outside the Emerald Triangle. Darrin, with a “Lemon Skunk” from Monterey County won first place for flowers. Third generation farmers and concentrate makers “Boo Boo Bubbles” won first and second place in the the concentrate contest with “OG” and “Girl Scout Cookies” strains.
The second year, 2014, at the Sonoma County fairgrounds promised to be a wild and ecstatic affair. It didn’t disappoint many folks. There were 600 entries, more categories, and the flower winner was “Sweet Serenade”. We almost doubled in size to 15,000 attendees.
In 2015, over 20,000 people attended the Cup that year, along with 900 entries. We went for full spectrum testing this year. That meant including lab tests for pesticides and microbial contamination. We started quite a ruckus, one that continues to this day. Over five percent of the flowers failed and darn near a quarter failed from the concentrate entries. It was wakeup call for our industry. Mean Gene won the flower contest with his own strain, the “Cherry Limeade”. He won the breeders contest as well. Headliners Rebelution and Beats Antique had packed crowds for music each night. We thought we had reached our pinnacle.
We were sure that 2016 would be the year we produced the “perfect” Emerald Cup. We had Damian Marley and Dirty Heads as headliners, everyone had a couple of years under their belts at the fairgrounds, and everything was in order for the contest. And it was close to perfect. However, once again we grew another size up, to over 25,000 attendees. And to top off the challenges, we ended up with 1,205 entries. That’s right, 1205 entries. It overwhelmed our testing lab, our judges, the team. We did an admirable job all things considered, but it was obvious that we were to going to have to dedicate many more resources, and tighten things up greatly to facilitate such a large contest. We’re talking about doubling the next largest cannabis competition in the world, and that one was ours also. We also had some operational issues from the size of the crowds. We don’t charge folks an additional fee to attend the headliners. In the past, it had worked out that everyone who wanted to see the main acts got in. With Damian headlining, we ended up over the music hall’s capacity by a few hundred people and they did not get the chance to attend.
This year we’re going to take steps to ensure people get the chance to get in. We’ve added key personnel across the board, from the contest to operations, to our management team; to maintain and ensure the fairest, best run cannabis event and competition in the world.
The judging gets harder every year. The medicine is judged on color, smell, trichomes, crystals, taste, vibrancy, and finally how it affects one’s consciousness. We’ve had to move up the deadline for the entries over the past few years just to give us enough time to test the entries and get them to the judges for judging. Over the years, with us adding more categories yearly, we’ve gotten to the point where we have over fifty judges in the different categories. The contests include, flowers, concentrates, all whole range of CBD categories, edibles, CO2 cartridges, and tropicals. Each year something is added to the contest.
Over the past couple of years some new friends in the music world were watching this all take place and were looking for a place to partner with cannabis leaders. I used to be fearful of partnerships and the impact they could have on the purity of our event. Nowadays, I realize in order to produce a major event, their professional tool-kit, and their connectivity across the nation is necessary. In our case it was just a matter of finding a company that fit within our banner of integrity-based policies and sustainable farming practices. With their added expertise, you can be assured that every aspect of the production will be well run. The experience of everyone involved will assure this.
After doubling in size the past four years, we’ve finally reached our limit in terms of size and scope of the event. We finally have the time and expertise to take care of the details and organizational aspects of every part of the Cup. You’re going to see and experience the results first hand at this years Emerald Cup.