Getting into hemp early is paying off for the NoCo Hemp Expo. The hemp industry conference's organizers just announced that their annual trade convention, set for late March, will move from Loveland to Denver to accommodate the growing field.
Hemp had a big year in 2018. Products derived from hemp, including CBD extracts, surged in popularity as word of the wonder plant spread all the way to Congress, which eventually legalized hemp farming and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act.
Already growing in attendance each year, the NoCo Hemp Expo couldn't handle the rising demand for hemp education and industry at the Ranch event center in Loveland, where the conference spent its first five years. So in 2019, the expo will be at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center, so that more people can learn all about this new agriculture sector.
"We needed the bigger space. And we're already bursting at the seams here, too, but there was no space in northern Colorado that could accommodate this event anymore," explains NoCo Hemp Expo founder/organizer Morris Beegle. "We'd been looking for the greater part of two years across the greater Front Range to see what was available, and the Crowne Plaza fit those requirements."
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To quench the expected 8,000 to 10,000 thirsty minds at the upcoming expo, about 70,000 square feet of exhibition space will be filled with more than 225 exhibitors, as well as business and farm symposiums, a global hemp village, science and technical workshops, and several networking events.
Beegle, a former music promoter, has been using his promotion and event organization skills to ride the hemp wave into other parts of the country, too. In September, he took his expo south, hosting the first annual Southern Hemp Expo in Nashville. One of the brands from that region, Kentucky-based GenCanna, will be the NoCo Hemp Expo's presenting sponsor.
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The agriculture and hemp research company believes that 2019 will take hemp to new heights, thanks in part to the 2018 Farm Bill's passage in late December. "We see it as an opportunity to tell the community at large what we’re doing, because 2019 is an important year for us. Our commitment to the hemp industry has been strong since 2014, and with the Farm Bill, we’ll see rapid evolution of hemp’s place in the American economy," explains GenCanna chief sales officer Garrett Bain.
This will be the first year that a company from outside of Colorado will be the presenting sponsor, but the NoCo Hemp Expo has grown beyond a Colorado-only event. "This is national and international now," Beegle says. "Kentucky's got a lot of good stuff going on, but Colorado's going to be a leader in this space. We already are, and will be for years to come. Jared Polis being our governor gives us a tremendous boost of opportunity."
Regulation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a new, more cannabis-friendly governor have Beegle bullish on the future, but he still sees the need for improvement. "The [Farm Bill] is not the perfect bill, but the reality is that in the environment we live in, getting to this point is a monumental success," he says. "Not everybody who is producing things out of their garages and basements is going to be able to play in this industry, but there's definitely room for artisanal and craft brands."
The NoCo Hemp Expo will be held on Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30. Friday is for business-to-business attendees only, while Saturday is for the general public (all ages) and will include plenty of hemp-infused food, drinks and entertainment. Tickets for the general public are $15 now and $25 at the door. Learn more at the expo's website.