This is part two of a two-part recap, read part one HERE
A few miles away from the Saguaro (aka cannabis summer camp), in an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory, the reason for the season was about to go down. Knowing how long the lines can be to enter the coveted Hall of Flowers Palm Springs, I set out early, securing my “press” wristband before the show was officially underway.
After designating the Boveda booth as my home base, I decided to walk the air-conditioned floor before the influx of buyers hit. I hadn’t moved more than four feet before I bumped into Wendy Baker, the dynamic force behind heady gummy brand Space Gems. She quickly ushered me to her booth, which was shared by fellow High Grade Distribution fam Talking Trees Farms and Have Hash.
Before I knew it, I was struggling to carry a bounty of fire flower, solventless rosin, and of course, plenty of Space Gems to blast off into next week. The generosity was truly over the top. It should be noted that enthusiasm for these brands is constantly at a fever pitch, with social media shout-outs on my feed outnumbering others by a large margin.
I made my way through the seven rows of exhibitor booths steadily after my initial interaction with the High Grade folks, making stops at some old favorites like aeroponic darlings 420 Kingdom (Watermelon Mimosa forevaaaa), hype masters Alien Labs, and the always impressive A Golden State. I also made sure to pop by Blueprint and CAM to secure what is always sure to be some of the dankest pot at HOF.
There were plenty of newcomers to Hall of Flowers Palm Springs as well. Many capitalized on the light-hearted SoCal vibes, leaning into bright neons and vintage flair. Others embodied a social justice narrative, utilizing their branding to pay homage to the victims of the failed war on drugs.
One brand that caught my eye thanks to its seahorse-emblazoned packaging was SeaWeed Naturals. I assumed correctly that it was a wellness brand, founded by the grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. Containing kelp in addition to cannabis and other essential oils, the topicals made by the brand piqued my interest. I only found out later that Cousteau had actually penned an anti-cannabis preface to the 1976 book Keep Off the Grass: A Scientific Enquiry Into the Biological Effects of Marijuana, an interesting tidbit I noted for future reference.
I also spent a fair amount of time chatting with the team at Moon Valley Cannabis. The Sonoma County craft cultivator, the brand utilizes no-till and Korean farming techniques. I scored a sample of their Strawberry Banana cold cure live rosin, a remarkably fruity and herbaceous product that hits you smack dab in the middle of your forehead, with a high that can only be described as splendid.
Around this time, I bumped into the Beard Bros themselves, Bill and Jeff, who were attempting to make their way through the crowd to the NorCal Cannabis Company activation outside. The Lolo brand had been called out as one to watch, so I grabbed a sample of the Lololemon, not wanting to be left out of the hype.
By late afternoon I had secured a major bag filled to the brim with flower, oil, edibles, and enough swag to outfit a family of five. I made my way across the vast session space dotted with lounge chairs and oversized pillows, running into Beard Bros on the other side of the outdoor booths smack.
The cannabis cookbook author turned Director of Marketing at binske handed me one of the brand’s phenomenal infused prerolls just in time for 4:20. It was just what I needed to cap off a long day and get me in the right mindset for an after-party sure to be turnt to 11.
High on Life: Seshes, Synchronized Swimming, and Star Wars
Back at the Saguaro, the scene was set. Guests were greeted by the wildest step and repeat I have ever seen: a gaggle of psychedelic puppets placed ever so carefully around a neon sign screamed “High on Life” both literally and figuratively. A DJ booth with the power to get the entire desert dancing was perched by the far edge of the pool. A few feet down, artist Emily Eizen was on hand to do a bit of live painting in celebration of the launch of groovy record label Liquid Culture.
A bevy of booths and activations dotted the landscape, featuring everything from pre-rolls by up-and-coming brand GoodGood to delicious dabs from the Ispire crew. Well-appointed cabanas provided plenty of space to roll up while the second-floor bar saw a satellite soiree of sorts popping off above the crowd. Party host Mike Tyson entertained his entourage in the VIP area. Tyson, despite being the master of ceremonies, rarely left the comfort of his home away from home.
Instead, it was the Tranimal himself who was seen meandering the crowd, delighting partygoers with his positive vibes. Everyone knows Tran and his Farechild counterpart James Zachdoni always throw an epic event, but this was one for the books.
In addition to the sick beats and never-ending supply of bud, guests were treated to a “May the Fourth” – themed performance by a group of synchronized swimmers, who floated around the pool to a disco remix of your favorite Star Wars overtures.
Despite being entirely too cool for its own good, it is important to note the confusing nature of the Saguaro’s layout. A million stairwells that lead to nowhere often saw guests wandering aimlessly, but everyone was too high and excited to vibe to care. After all, you never knew who you may run into.
I found myself with the Hashinista herself, Elise McRoberts, who had plenty of solventless terps from Humboldt brand Schackow. We journeyed through the maze of corridors to my room for an impromptu photoshoot with our Puffcos on my balcony. When we opened the sliding glass doors overlooking the party raging below, we were smacked by an overpowering aroma of cannabis and joy.
The Beard Bros caught us dabbing from afar, calling us back downstairs for one more sesh before the night came to a close.
Another HOF in the Books
Day two of Hall of Flowers Palm Springs started with a fantastic and much-needed brunch at the Saguaro, courtesy of our gracious hosts. Back the show site, the indoor and outdoor activations were buzzing thanks to an influx of industry players (day one of Hall of Flowers is typically reserved for buyers and press).
My old pal and colleague Jeff Hale, now a senior digital editor at MG Retailer, joined me to assist in documenting the day’s adventures. We braved the heat to check out the scene in the courtyard, which saw plenty of fun thanks to a pop-up arcade at the STIIZY booth and an adjacent mock bodega with plenty of Cheeba Chews inside.
Needing an air conditioning break, we ventured inside to visit another mutual friend. Allie Everdeen, social media manager at Chemistry, was offering a demo on the brand’s full-spectrum, sun-grown products. Knowing the company partners with Humboldt favorite Moon Made Farms, I knew I had to tap in.
The three of us wandered about, making a stop at the NUG on-site dispensary to cash in the wad of vouchers we all had received. Hall of Flowers is unique in that exhibitors are able to sample their wares, provided they went through an in-booth POS or sanctioned pop-up dispo housed in the far corner of the main building. A mere $3 to cover tax was all you had to pay per voucher, a drop in the pan considering a designer eighth can run close to $100 out the door in a regular retail establishment.
Hall of Flowers is a fantastic place to catch a buzz, explore new brands and celebrate the old, and vibe out in a way not possible at other cannabis events. Now it’s all eyes on Santa Rosa as the trade show plans its return to Norcal later this fall. Stay tuned to Beard Bros Media to get all the deets once the show dates are announced.
Enjoyed that first hit? Come join us at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of this week’s cannabis news!