The American county fair is a tradition that dates to the early days of our country. Agriculture has traditionally been at the center of the annual fetes – the exhibition of livestock and state-of-the-art farming practices was of great interest to the largely rural population in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, as the population has shifted from an agrarian to an urban majority (over 80 percent of Americans live in cities now), the agricultural portion of county fairs has become less interesting, and certainly less vital, to fair-goers.
So, what’s a county fair to do? Many counties have opted for attractions that are of more interest to contemporary audiences. The Denver County Fair (July 21 -23 this year), for instance, will feature a freak show, a beer and wine fest, and goat yoga alongside the more traditional 4-H Pavilion and pie judging contests.
One thing that’s missing from the Denver County Fair is cannabis. That’s right, the fastest growing industry in Denver is excluded from the county fair. But that wasn’t always the case. In 2014, our local Fair featured the “World’s First Pot Pavilion,” and it was a huge hit. Sort of. The Pot Pavilion occupied an entire floor of the National Western Complex, and the fair director told the Denver Post that the fair had to turn away sponsors because of the sheer volume of potential participants (in the end, there were 57 vendors).
The Denver Post article on the Pavilion reported, “There will be no actual cannabis on the premises. Plant, bud and brownie judging will take place at an off-site licensed facility, then shown via video at the pot pavilion. But sponsors and vendors will be showing and selling smoking accessories. Entrance to the third floor will be restricted to people ages 21 and over.” At least that was the plan. After the fair, several attendees complained of being given cannabis-infused edibles and filed a class-action lawsuit against two local vendors. Though the Fair itself was not implicated in the lawsuit, that was the end of the Pot Pavilion.
Now there’s talk of California county fairs allowing cannabis sampling and sales for people 21 and over. However, possibly because of what happened in Denver, many county fair planners in California are wary of the inclusion of cannabis in their events. Pamela Fyock, CEO of the Tulare County Fair, said “It (cannabis) has the potential to bring a lot of problems to the fair. We work very hard to make sure this is a safe, family-friendly environment.”
Meanwhile, back in Colorado, you can still enjoy the Denver County Fair, even without the Pot Pavilion. We suggest enjoying your favorite TGS® flower or NectarBee® edible before heading out to the National Western Complex this year. And though it should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway: enjoy responsibly. Don’t drive under the influence of cannabis, even if you think you feel up to it.
See you at the fair.