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The organizers behind Oklahoma’s first High Times Cannabis Cup said most of the issues at the event were due to its overwhelming popularity.

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Thousands more people than expected turned out to the first High Times Oklahoma Cannabis Cup. - ALEX ACE
  • Alex Ace
  • Thousands more people than expected turned out to the first High Times Oklahoma Cannabis Cup.

Both High Times and Lost Lakes Entertainment Complex chalk up Saturday’s missteps to the same factor: The first Oklahoma Cannabis Cup was more successful than anyone imagined it would be.

High Times does not release attendance numbers for its Cannabis Cups, vice president of content Jon Cappetta said. But Lost Lakes managing partner Brad White said an estimated 20,000 people attended the two-day festival.

However, staffing and resources were calculated based on the number of pre-sale tickets, which White said only numbered about 3,500 through Wednesday.

“I've been doing concert promotion for about 30 years,” he said. “The rule of thumb when you're going to host an event like this is to keep track of ticket counts and work with your promoter to make sure that you're preparing for the crowd that they intend on receiving. … As a host, I have to say I was a little disappointed for the High Times folks. They were expecting a really major ticket sale situation.”

Lost Lakes prepared for 5,000 people, including dedicating about 200 spots for handicapped parking. White said the lot inside the park holds about 600-700 cars, and the auxiliary parking lot across the street has about 1,000 spaces.

“You can prepare a little bit, but when you have a walk-up that is double what you have previously sold in tickets, that's unheard of. That’s Woodstock stuff,” he said.

High water levels due to rains earlier in the summer not only prevented the park from using the slides and wakeboarding area, but also washed out the bridge that connected the stage area and the vendor area. They were unable to rebuild it before the Cannabis Cup. Additionally, White said the half-mile dirt path around the lake was dry and dusty until days before the event.

“And here comes a rainstorm. I go from dust to mud in a matter of hours, and it rains from eight o'clock at night to eight o'clock in the morning that Thursday morning,” he said. “We had, at that point, a little over 24 hours to try to get the road smoothed out.”

As far as the lack of food and water in the vendor village, White said that was a result of being forbidden to provide either in an area where open consumption of cannabis was permitted.

“The city told them, the Health Department said, ‘No concessions in the area where you're going to have the vendors. None.’ I call back, I said, ‘Listen. You can't have people over there with no food and water.’ ‘Water’s okay.’ ‘OK. We’ll do water.’ ‘You’ve got to give it away.’ I didn't get it for free. I can’t give it away. I'm happy to help a person in need, but if I'm going to really support those people, just let me set up a stand over there and sell waters,” White said. “They finally agreed, on the second day. That was High Times agreeing to take the heat on it. I didn't get approval from the city. I just did it because people were falling fucking out.”

Unforeseen hurdles

Cappetta said High Times was impressed with the state and the Cannabis Cup turnout and plans to host more of them in the state.

“There was some road bumps, and we definitely have some learning things for next time, but we're excited,” Cappetta said.

“It seems like the vendors were excited, the patients were excited. I know it was hot and fucking muggy,” he said. “I was apologizing to people all weekend, being like, ‘Oh, man. We had no idea it was gonna be this hot or rainy or whatever,’ and everyone was like, ‘Dude, this is Oklahoma. We’re used to this. Come on. You California boys don't know what it is out here.’”

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