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Emerald Cup Adds Indoor and Goes Online for 2021

The largest cannabis competition in California adapts and grows in the wake of the pandemic.

Photo by Michael Rosati

For nearly two decades, the Emerald Cup has been the go-to festival and competition for people from all over the world who want to immerse themselves in California sungrown Cannabis culture. 

Historically focused on flower and products from the Emerald Triangle, the Cup packs out increasingly larger venues year after year, drawing huge crowds, legendary cultivators and killer mainstage entertainment. 

For the 2021 event, founder Tim Blake, his daughter Taylor Blake, and their team were excited to try something new by moving the competition to Los Angeles, and expanding the contest categories to include indoor cultivators for the first time in the event’s history. 

But, as with everything in this post-COVID world, the Emerald Cup has had to reinvent itself in order to fit the new temporary pandemic paradigm. 

Just in time to finally feature indoor, the 2021 Emerald Cup is moving online. 

“I’m really going to miss the in-person event this year,” founder Tim Blake said over a Zoom call in February. “Crisis is an opportunity. We have a crisis, and now we have an opportunity.”

Blake sees this as an opportunity to develop new judging procedures and categories, while also welcoming a broader, more geographically widespread audience with an online format. In order to make the event work, the Emerald Cup has partnered with Social Club TV for a digital broadcast of the awards. 

The Cup still plans to continue its tradition of complementing the awards ceremony with killer entertainment on the livestream, featuring a to-be-announced lineup of comic and musical entertainers on board to liven up the proceedings. 

Judging, much of which has involved in-person analysis and deliberation in the past, has moved to Zoom for everything but the initial flower assessments and a final assessment, which will happen in-person in a safe, socially-distanced fashion in Petaluma. Nearly 100 judges will weigh in on more than 40 categories, before the Cup selects winners in each contest.

Aside from the temporary changes to the format, Blake says the Cup is making a significant alteration to the way it handles flower categorization. This year, flower entries will be grouped by their primary terpenes, with the best in each class heading to the awards.

This change, coupled with the fact that this is the first year in history that the Cup will entertain an indoor flower category, means everyone’s favorite consumer-facing California Cannabis competition is only getting more interesting in the wake of 2020.

Stay tuned for more updates, as we’ll follow the Emerald Cup as the team works to put together a celebration of harvest for the fall, and preps for the real live and in-person Los Angeles debut in 2022. 

In the meantime, we’ll catch you online.


Photos by @rosatiphotos

About Tom Bowers

Tom Bowers is in this with all of you.

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