“Our original goal was to find the best cannabis and cannabis related products in New England … I feel we have done a good job with that and continue to learn, grow, and change each year.”
Since hosting their first expo in 2017, the organizers behind the Harvest Cup have built one of the most anticipated annual cannabis events in New England. This year’s competition, trade show, and concert goes down for two days at the DCU Center in Worcester starting Nov. 12, and also features an afterparty on Saturday night with Badfish.
As for the cup categories, judges are currently evaluating the best: Sweet Edibles; Savory Edibles; Beverages; Syrups, Sauces, and Condiments; Topicals/Therapeutic; Topicals/Cosmetic; CBD Flower/Extract; CBD Edibles; Tinctures & Capsules; Concentrates; and Flower, which this year will be “broken down into six categories based on terpene-dominant profiles as provided by lab results: limonene, humulene, pinene, linalool, caryophyllene, and myrcene.”
We asked event organizer and the Harvest Cup Director of Communications Jenn Blakeney Borjeson what to expect with this year’s festivities.
From our own experience and from the buzz around New England, the Harvest Cup feels like a grassroots event that got big fast but still has those original roots. Is that how it seems from the organizing perspective? And to what do you attribute your success so far?
We work hard to provide a safe space to hold a professional event that maintains that “grassroots feeling” and I’m thrilled that’s how you see it. We attribute our success to the people and relationships that we’ve developed over the years. We worked hard right from the first event in 2017 to gain people’s trust. And it worked. People trust us—they trust our process, our competition, and our event. That means a lot to us as event organizers.
What was your original mission and what were your original goals, and how do those compare to what the cup looks like now?
Our original goal was to find the best cannabis and cannabis related products in New England and to bring the cannabis community together. I feel we have done a good job with that and continue to learn, grow, and change each year. We have had a kickoff party for our vendors, judges, and competitors every year but this is our first year hosting an official after party with music.
At the category level, what are we looking at this year and how do you adjust the competition itself to changes in the market and any other trends you may or may not be responsive to?
We had more entries this year than ever. We do update and or make changes to categories as needed.
What would you say is the most competitive category?
We usually get the most entries in flower and sweet edibles. In the past, we’ve had categories for indoor and outdoor flower, or indica and sativa flower. This year, the flower is broken down by terpene profiles. We plan on making some additional changes next year as well.
How is the balance between home growers, growers from major cultivations, and those in between?
We always have a great turnout by licensed facilities and home growers alike. My guess is it’s pretty close to a 50-50 split.
How about the music and non-cannabis attractions? What works especially well for your event?
This year we decided to do an after party with Badfish. It’s our first time, so I’m not sure how it will work out. We all think it will be a great success—we are having the party in the Grand Ballroom of the DCU Center, ensuring the feel of a private concert. We also did a golf tournament this summer that culminated in dinner and a comedy show. Everyone I talked to that attended had a great time.
We also have live artists painting at our event—sometimes they collaborate on special projects together. This year we have four artists—Canman from Visions Tattoo, Piercing, and Art Gallery, Cassie VonDoom from Silent Wyld, Cameron Lee from Bearly Bothered Boards, and Ryan Gardell from Artifakt Studios.
You have done charity drives and other smaller events related to THC as well. How do you go about keeping the blood flowing between cups?
When we started the Harvest Cup in 2017, we wanted to focus on the event and competition itself. We were new at being event organizers and wanted to learn as much as possible. We have started to talk about doing additional events through the year—we had our first golf tournament this past summer and we are planning on hosting a disc golf tourney next summer. We are looking into hosting a summer event on a local farm next year. We also donate swag bags, raffle prizes, tickets, and more to other events happening in the local or cannabis community.
When you started, Worcester wasn’t necessarily the center of the Mass cannabis universe, but it certainly is now. What can you say about your relationship with the city and region and venue and why it’s important that the cup is hosted there in particular?
In my opinion, Worcester has always been the center of the Massachusetts cannabis market. It’s important that we host the cup in Worcester because when we approached the city in 2016 to do this event they were very receptive. Our relationship has grown over the years. Attendees of the Harvest Cup bring substantial business to area hotels and restaurants. We have a huge raffle at our kickoff party that many local businesses donate to.
Finally, what should people know going into this year’s Harvest Cup?
This year‘s Harvest Cup will be the best one so far. We are super excited about Badfish performing at our afterparty and we have a great variety of vendors. Check our website for a complete list of vendors, competitors, speakers, artists, and nonprofit agencies that make this year‘s event awesome.
Citizen Strain/Grain is an amalgamation of a bunch of us who, in addition to the hard and oftentimes depressing journalism we report for the Dig, also enjoy sampling and writing about the various beers, spirits, and cannabis products that vendors from near and far send our way. If you want us to check out your product, please contact us at email@example.com.