I was asked to cover this year’s Legends Valley Bio Cup about 24-36 hours before it changed over to the High Times Cup. That was about two weeks before the actual event, so I can only imagine what was going on behind the scenes.
I know much of the Vancouver cannabis community was up in arms about sponsorship, guest judge, and entertainment changes. With last year not going as smoothly as some would have hoped, there was — and still is — some real animosity towards the event, too. But I figured Alexander Pope had it right when he said “blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Guess what? I’m happy I went in with that mindset, because I am sure that I enjoyed myself so much more.
High Times Cup 2017
We had a crew of nine all caravaning together from the GVRD. It was a diverse group as always; good people that I was happy to be with. Twelve High Chicks owner Mae Moon was leading the pack and had a speaking spot on August 27th. And we also had guest speaker Dennis Boisvert of POW 420 with us as well.
We headed out at the crack of dawn that Thursday, August 24th, but we missed our intended ferry. So we did that two hour wait at Horseshoe Bay thing, where you buy coffees you don’t want, go to the bathroom for the sake of it, that kind of thing. Obviously we went to the little beach by the ferry terminal and smoked a few joints. Because that’s just what you do.
Finally, we got on our ferry and settled in for the ride.
Fast forward a few hours and we pulled into the site near Lake Cowichan. After an effortless transaction with security and organizers we started to set up camp in a mostly empty field. Two words: fucking rocks. They were everywhere. I would strongly recommend everyone who goes next year either glamp it up with a tent trailer/RV, or at the very least bring a good air mattress. Not the $30 one, the $120 dollar one. So. Many. Fucking. Rocks.
And there was zero shelter from the sun in general. Thank fuck we had some resourceful peeps in the crew to save the day — they built us a shelter for shade — because I probably would have died in the heat otherwise.
I couldn’t really blame anyone for being dubious about what to expect this year. Especially as I heard last year’s camping situation, amongst other things, was a catastrophe of sorts. Even this year, our Fest Huts were cancelled and promptly refunded at the last minute; I would imagine because there was a lack of interest. If I didn’t already own a tent I would have been pissed off, I’m sure.
We also struggled to get our media passes. While there were plenty of people working the event, it was difficult to find answers from anyone with any sort of pull that day. In the meantime they gave us a stack of general admission passes to ensure we could get around the majority of the site and event. So kudos to High Times for not leaving us hanging.
It was all worked out by noon Friday, and they beefed up our original agreement, too. If I was initially upset, I wasn’t after that. They also gave us golf cart rides, I think that probably helped the most.
Exploring the Cup
In my case it felt like Thursday was a write off. Between the heat, travel, dust, alcohol, copious amounts of weed in too many formats to count, all tied in with the day in general, I mentally checked out and did my own thing.
Kinda bummed in hindsight, as there was a pretty decent music line-up for me that night compared to the rest of the weekend. But there were no fucks to be given by that point. Stoner problems at their finest.
Woke up Friday around 9:00 am to the kind of oppressive heat that only a tent can give in a matter of minutes under the sun. Which worked in my favour as I really needed to get out of bed and make up for lost time. Had some food, coffee, and a never ending supply of joints in just about every conceivable combination to start my day. And also a breakfast beer, because camping.
As mentioned, we also finally had the pass situation figured out. It was time to go explore.
Smoking the Venue
It was an interesting venue. I really thought that the overall layout was good. Never too far from the action, although there could have been much better access to potable water in the camp ground.
We were able to blaze as much as we liked in the campground and exhibitor area, but the stage area was officially a no pot zone. Some people had zero issue getting pot in there to smoke; others were not so lucky. There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason behind who got pot-blocked at the gate to the stage area.
I suspect it might have something to do with what kind of pass you had on your wrist. I did not bother trying to get any through, as pot can sometimes make me antisocial and I was hanging out with some pro-tokers around there. So I figured smoke breaks were okay — the term “smoke break” here used in the opposite way it’s usually intended.
There was an official smoke pit for tobacco smokers in the stage area. So plenty of people blazed in there. And the VIP stage area seemed to have plenty of joints going around on the side stage.
The exhibitor areas had a lot of blank spaces. As I mentioned earlier there was a huge change in premier sponsors when High Times took over. Out of loyalty, when a significant Bio Cup sponsor was replaced by an equally significant High Times advertiser/sponsor, some companies chose to boycott. I don’t really have an opinion on all of that; the whole reason High Times had to take over was because the cup was a sinking ship. I can see both sides of it. Many don’t like the corporate presence, and I’m not a fan either. But on the other hand, I am happy someone tried.
There were plenty of freebies to sample, and a plethora of options to purchase from a huge assortment of buds, concentrates, all sorts of gear … all things cannabis related, regardless of the exhibitor drama.
Did I mention tonnes of free dabs?
I found there to be a lack of information in regards to the speakers, and I think that there would have been more interest if the stage area for the seminars hadn’t been in full-on blazing sun. Maybe a combination of the exhibitors area and a place for speakers would be more effective?
As it sat, it was kind of off in a strange corner of the site, and there wasn’t much in the way of signage or announcements. I mean, we are stoners. And in that situation, we are probably pretty high. Please, make it easier for us. There was a great lineup of speakers, and if we aren’t educating, what’s the point? My two cents.
Then there was the music. There were very few acts I even knew anything about, but as a music lover I am always happy to check out live groups. I mentioned earlier I was excited to check out Thursday nights entertainment, but that didn’t happen.
I had a few highlights from the weekend, though, and I they were mostly on the Saloon stage. My first favourite was East Van-based Power Clown, an Iron Maiden cover band exclusively in clown attire. I don’t know what else to say besides that they nailed it.
Another favourite, spanning all the way back from my teen years, was Dayglo Abortions. They aren’t the young men I saw back in the day, but they can still put on a great show.
We also checked out Sloan — my partner in crime went to highschool with their keyboardist — and they did a great selection of their hits.
I have yet to find any sort of official statement, but one higher up I spoke to at the cup that seemed fairly humble about the whole experience. From what I heard, High Times was glad to have the chance to learn what to do better next year. I didn’t have to give even a short list of things that sucked, because they were fully aware. It cost them a lot of money to keep the event going with the timelines and attendance they had. And I’ve been a part of enough festivals and cups to know how difficult an event of this size would be to organize even with an adequate amount of time.
All that said, they were a positive crew; I found that to be a breath of fresh air, considering how much this community likes to complain about each other. If the cannabis community were to spend as much energy on the fight for legalization as we do fighting with each other, pot would have been legal long ago.
I asked thirty or so people if they thought they would come back in 2018. The majority of them said yes, although nearly all I asked had caveats of various sorts. Yes, there was a definite air of disorganization, but they seemed to clear that up a respectable amount by Saturday. At least what they could with the resources they had.
Would I go back? I think so, yes. I really appreciated High Times attitude with all the stress that must have come with a last minute take over. And I think that there is a lot of potential in the event. I thought the rules were fair (and flexible) and it had something for everyone in general. Was it more mainstream than other cups I’ve been to? Absolutely. But isn’t that kind of what we are trying to do, pull out from the underground?
I think we have bigger fish to fry than High Times, and we would be well served to acknowledge that.