While confusion continues to swirl around the 4/20 rally at Civic Center Park, plans for another cannabis festival held every April in Colorado are humming right along. The NoCo Hemp Expo will return to Loveland on April 6 and April 7, and its organizer expects it to be bigger than ever.
"We had some space issues and were packed to the gills last year, so we added another building," explains NoCo Hemp founder Morris Beegle, who says the event's programming has increased about 25 percent over last year. "It's going to have more speakers and more exhibitors."
Beegle estimates that anywhere from 5,500 to 6,000 people will attend this year's expo at the Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, where they'll dive into two days of nearly sixty featured speakers, 150 exhibitions and the expo's first ever farmer symposium. There will also be an expanded programming for high-end investors and CEOs in the hemp industry, according to Beegle.
Keynote speakers include Nature's Path founder Arran Stevens, Nutiva founder John Rulac and Winona La Duke, executive director of Native American activism group Honor the Earth. "Stevens doesn't speak very often. To have him keynote the summit this year is a big pull for our industry," Beegle says.
"This is is definitely going to have more of a farm and [agriculture] feel than it has in the past, as well as more regenerative farming," he continues. "In the past, it was more general products-oriented. Not that we weren't going for farmers, but adding the farm and ag symposium adds more of a farm feel." And like past expos, this year's will have plenty of food trucks, hemp-based treats and live entertainment.
The expo has seen a rise in popularity with the fast emergence of CBD as well as more states legalizing industrial hemp farming. That movement has sped up as confusion over legalized psychoactive cannabis and hemp cultivation is cleared up.
In 2015, the NoCo Hemp Expo was almost compromised when the Larimer County Sheriff's Department claimed the expo couldn't have hemp plants or germinating seeds on the premises without being shut down. The expo eventually went on as planned, though, and Beegle says that he and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith have ironed out those issues. "They were really nice last year," Beegle says of Larimer County law enforcement. "We've educated them, and they've been supportive of everything. We're just building on what we've done in the past, and it's been working.
The NoCo Hemp Expo will be held on Friday, April 6, and Saturday, April 7, at the Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle in Loveland. Tickets start at $15 for general admission on Saturday; VIP, business-to-business and other special packages are available. Learn more on the NoCo Hemp Expo website.