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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Arts + CultureCulturePuff: Hall of Flowers brings the canna-goods, despite industry...

Puff: Hall of Flowers brings the canna-goods, despite industry squeeze

'Halloween for stoners' featured a human claw machine for freebies and a prolific mechanical joint roller.

It was a beautiful day to head out of San Francisco and up to Santa Rosa for Hall of Flowers at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on May 3 and 4.

The event is the ideal pot expo for buyers, industry folk, and the press raring to get a peek at all the new stuff coming to a dispensary near you. As I have said before, Hall of Flowers is like Halloween for stoners. You walk from booth to booth chatting with the different companies, and they give you coupons to turn in at the big dispensary at the end of the day—or sell cannabis items directly to you for around $3 each.

This year, I was excited to meet a lot of my sponsors for Bong-o Bingo who I had previously only corresponded with via email and text. Oh and since you asked, Bong-o Bingo is now on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at the Mission Cannabis Club from 6 to 9pm. Similar to Hall of Flowers, we give out cannabis prizes with every round of bingo and much more!

This year’s turnout for vendors was noticeably smaller. There was a lot of the talk that it represented the shrinking of the cannabis industry due to the government’s over-taxation. That is true in part, I am sure, but I also think it was due to the fact that the last edition of Hall of Flowers was in Santa Rosa not six months ago, back in October 2022. There was supposed to be another expo in Palm Springs, but it got canceled, and organizers moved it up to Santa Rosa.

Maybe it was too soon for some companies to return and spend the money on another booth rental with costs of set-up, swag, and travel added. 

Regardless, the next Hall of Flowers will be in Toronto, Las Vegas, and then Palm Springs in 2024.

It was nice being at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in the spring rather than the fall, but some leftover April showers made their way into the area the day before. Day 1 had a sky full of sinister-looking clouds. It made for some very dramatic photographs. Luckily, the rains held off until the end of the day.

I started with some of the big booths outside first in case it started raining, like Gelato with its slushies and ice cream cones, Selfies by Heshies with trippy rainbow colors, Traditional Co. with their tie-dyed crew and some rocketing Cotton Candy Censored flower, and Dabwoods hoisting people over a bunch of boxes for prizes with their Dab & Grab like a human claw machine.

Next, I hit the two main buildings, which housed almost 200 different companies between them. I schmoozed, smelled lots of big jars of weed (one of my favorite parts of HoF), and got lots of samples. Since I first started coming to Hall of Flowers, it has been interesting to see so many companies up their game in terms of product packaging and design. There were lots of big bright colors, and attractive jars and bags. I really loved how Cookies put eighths in ice cream containers, Real Deal Resin had a cute Hashflix and wrestler theme, and how Country Cannabis debuted full-strength joints with giant fruit.

Speaking of bags, every time I go to this event, I always get really cool big ones to put all my stuff into. One year, Connected had blue and purple totes that I still use for grocery runs. Last year, Cookies stocked nice canvas numbers. This year, there were three competing big bags: Paleta’s had a big yellow bag with its melting popsicle logo, Selfies had a big silver-and-rainbow-hued bag, and then Cam came in with their giant black logo models, beating out the rest of the competition.

Diamonds were still a stoner’s best friend. I saw countless pre-rolls infused with diamonds and even liquid diamonds. I just think diamonds sound better and sexier than shatter, hash, and rosin—which could be why brands were selling so much of them. I also think they burn easier in a joint. I saw lots of pre-rolls too! Especially minis or shorties. Pre-roll sales increased 12 percent last year, making them one of the fastest growing markets—everyone is jumping on that bandwagon.

After my first rounds through the showrooms, I took a break in Shade Park, where there were chairs and giant bean bags for lounging, smoking, and dabbing. This is when the fun people-watching starts. I lit up that first joint of the day. (I wanted to be alert when schmoozing and able to say full sentences and express full thoughts, so I had started out the day totally sober at the stoner event.) I floated away, watching the people walk by.

Next, I took a dab break at the Puffco booth so I could ogle the Peaks and ever-cuter Proxy pipe, and then took a floaty tour through the buildings one last time. Afterward, I took my coupons to the Nugs Dispensary to cash in for my weed bounty.

I took my treasures and propped myself up in a nice bean bag, rifling through my new weed items while enjoying being in such a beautiful space with such good energy. I do love weed events!

Then the first rain drop hit my forehead, and I knew my day at Hall of Flowers was about over. Later, there were several after parties and events. But I made my way home down US-101, and am now trying out all my new items.

Coming up in my next column, I will reveal the best products I tried at Hall of Flowers. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Now it’s time to light up!

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.

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