Cannifest was born from an annual event called Humboldt Green Week. This was a week long celebration of all things green including environmental clean ups, sustainable businesses, music, gardening and cannabis.
The week would host over 50 events in locations across the county and offered local businesses and organizations the opportunity to connect through networking while having fun. Ultimately Green Week included the Humboldt Garden Expo (2012-2015) which morphed into Cannifest in 2016 and the incubator was born. The community finally had a local space to showcase the products that their families and lineage had been known for- out in the open and with pride. It was a time of celebration and an era that would inspire so many of us to keep this dream alive.
With great pride we co-produced the First Cannabis Farmers Workshop in 2014 featuring Best Management Practices and invited the state agency's to present and educate, with an open armed approach, the farmers of our community. This event drew over 100 participants and paved the road for the state licensure process that would follow in a few short years.. At this point we knew the celebration had to continue and that the community was hungry for strong presenters, educational talks and we began taking notes of the hot topics we would feature at our next event. We were having fun identifying opportunites for the vents to grow and working with a strong team to execute.
Producing Cannifest as a stand alone event in Humboldt from 2015-2017 allowed us the focus that we had wanted, ways to subscribe to peoples needs in a more cohesive way. The Yes We Cann Parade 2015 would kick things off and snake its way through Eureka to the Redwood Fairgrounds- the new home of this event. The parade was a way for the community to sign up, get involved and create, build floats, discuss local issues while doing so and just connect our community like we had anticipated.
The inaugural parade was led by Frank Benlin (Tom Hummel, from Philadelphia PA) and Mike, Lennon and Morice Gieder as they were pulled by horse and buggy waving and marveling in all that had come together so quickly through the determination and drive that Cannifest engulfed.
Local businesses, community activism groups, public works and many cannabis advocates would walk arm in arm showcasing their roles in the local community and expressing their purest emotions along the way- smiles, laughs and tears of joy could be seen by all. This event would draw international touring artists, journalists and photographers to take note and document history in the making.
In 2016 we would include the first Humboldt Green Jobs Fair, now that cannabis businesses needed to fill local positions and we saw an opportunity to devote part of the event to building those bridges it was a no brainer. The event was a success and was instrumental in identifying opportunities to strengthen and stimulate the local economy. Competitive games, the Cannifest Bowl competition, Ganja Games, the Humboldt Grow Games, Community Choice Awards for Live Art, Functional Glass and the like really boosted the interactive experience that we wanted- everyone had a voice and everyone cast their vote!
Winners received trophies designed by local artsisans at Mirador Glass and the Woodlab- they fused their styles together and came up with some beautiful keepsakes that the winners still treasure to this day. Although Mirador has relocated to the northeast part of the country- they still accept the challenge each year of collaborating w/ the Woodlab folks to blend beautiful handblown glass with the richest of redwoods, just for our events. We are so lucky to have the network of beautiful people we have. Along the way we have had team members that gave their truest passions to helping us create memories that will last forever.
Cannifest 2017 would pack a real punch!!! The annual Humboldt Grow Games would take center stage on the race track - and the teams of 4 would work hand in hand to secure the grand prize- a Polaris Side by Side! The excitement brought out fans and the emcees, namely Steve Gieder, kept things exciting as always.
Local families had a ton of fun in the Family Interactive Zone- making crafts, hula hooping, pony rides- watching local karate clubs show off their skills and attending workshops for drumming just to name a few of the activities provided.. Encouraging a safe space for families to enjoy their time together was a HUGE goal of ours.
In 2017 we also rolled out the Yes We Cann Parade and Hullabaloo event at the Arcata Ballpark- this one day event really showcased our ability to mobilize as a community and express ourselves in the parade setting in a bigger way. The parade began on the campus of Humboldt State University and made its way through the lively streets of Arcata to the ballpark. The Plaza at the center of town was alive with face paints, crepe paper, elaborate floats, bands on trailers and even the kinetic sculptures showed up. This was a day that was heavily documented by press near and far- and gave our community the beautiful ability to express itself and its most desired and world renowned crop. The parade spilled into the beautiful Arcata ballpark where you could find carnival games, multiples stages hosting presentations, talks and live music by local and touring acts. The 'Survivor Stage' was alive with stories of struggles with body. mind and spirit that gave way to the power of the beautiful cannabis plant and the solutions found inside its healing properties.
In 2018 regulations changed direction and due to some local hurdles regarding cannabis consumption events-
We did all we could to communicate with those who had the local authority to host our event but it proved to be an uphill battle. Those that the state gave approval to were against having a cannabis related event in their town.
The talks began to take the show on the road into emerging markets that really needed what we had to offer- an instant networking opportunity among multiple industries in markets that were young but excited.
St Louis would be the first on our radar- we had planned the event initially for 2020 but pushed it back to 2021 once the pandemic took over. The event was outside in the Arts District of St Louis under a Big Top Circus Tent. The vendors showed up, the attendees had an educational experience learning from 2 full days of panelists and presenters and the local cannabis network was reinforced. Like all of our events we brought in world renowned musicians including Don Carlos, Karl Denson and other talented touring acts for a concert.
Next up, Chicago and Oklahoma City in 2022- both events featured high caliber vendors, expert speakers and a distinct celebration of the culture.
We were proud to make the connections we could and look forward to heading back to both of those cities in 2024 as well.
There are so many opportunities out there for our events to tackle the hot topics head on- by bringing in the experts and securing data that so many groups have focused their day to day on- we are advocating for this industry by supplying the community the ability to have conversations and healthy debates as well as playing games, laughing and bringing elements of joy back to our human expereince.
This year we are headed back to where the fun all began- the gorgeous waterfront, Halvorsen Park in Eureka CA. We have high hopes of shining the light on the amazing people of Humboldt County and the surrounding counties while inviting communities from other regions of Cali- and ultimately from around the world. We have strong keynote speakers committed- and musical acts to bring in the irie vibes. This event will be a licensed consumption event that brings the community together each fall for years to come!
Cannifest continues to celebrate the small farmers initiatives and we hope you will join us in meeting them one one.
Lets take a step back into time and discover more about the 'stories' of how our local farms came to be. Stand up for the local farming community at Cannifest- there has never been a more important time for us to come together.
Come out and get to know your neighbors- ask questions, celebrate wonder and play some games!!!
We would love for you to be involved in some capacity- spin around this site and sign up or reach out to us! There are so many ways to get involved and stay elevated at Cannifest!
The Cannifest Crew