This weekend, Hemp Fest revelers will make their way to Burke Mountain and with nearly 40 exhibitors, five educational sessions, and a Saturday evening soundtrack provided by The Mangroves, attendees can expect the inaugural event to far exceed whatever their expectations.

While a ProVerde Laboratories-sponsored pre-registration party will be held Friday, the festivities kick off in earnest at 9:30am, with the first session, Introduction to Hemp, one hour after the doors open. At noon, Jane Lanza, a teacher at Winooski’s Laughing River Yoga, will lead a 45-minute yoga session. Throughout the day, food will be provided by the View Pub and Genuine Jamaican Food Truck.

At 1:00, Michael Lewis, founder of Growing Warriors, will deliver the event keynote; something title sponsor Vermont Hemp Company President Joel Bedard is particularly looking forward to, in addition to connecting with other hemp cultivators and producers. Bedard and Lewis have been “talking almost daily for the last year” but it’s been a long time since they have connected in-person.

“He’s a buddy of mine,” Bedard said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing him.”

Following Lewis is three more sessions from 1:30 to 4:00, including the Pharmacology of Hemp; Growing a Hemp Business in Vermont and Beyond; and Hempcrete, Hemp Fiber, Hempanol, and Hemp Fiberglass.

Heady Vermont Publisher and Co-founder Monica Donovan, who co-organized Hemp Fest with partner Eli Harrington, said the event not only brings together members of the community – many who will meet each other for the first time despite operating in the same space – but is helping “to create the industry” in the state.

“I think the event is spurring a lot of action on many fronts,” she explained. “I think it’s helping to move things forward in a way that we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t done an event like this … I think there are going to be some strong relationships built at this event because everyone is all in one place, together.”

Donovan said that while the event has been a labor of love, and she is excited to see all of the exhibitors, products, and people, she’s also looking forward to “kicking back in front of a campfire” after the sun sets on Saturday.

One of the events oft-mentioned as stirring the organizers’ imaginations is the Business Pitch Competition, wherein the winner will receive $1,000 cash and $2,000 in-kind services from Purple Fox Engineering, the competition sponsors, and Heady Vermont.

“Everybody who comes to the event is going to have a chance to connect with these businesses and people directly,” said Eli Harrington, co-organizer. “I’m excited to see what happens after this event and see how all of these connections lead to people growing hemp for various purposes.”

For the organizers and sponsors, the inaugural Hemp Fest comes at the perfect time, and Donovan, Bedard, and Harrington agreed that the state’s hemp industry is burgeoning and an organized event is absolutely essential to the sector’s growth.

“I think it’s overdue in the sense that we have never gotten all of these pieces of the community together before but in many other ways it’s right on time,” Donovan explained. “There’s a sense of anticipation and new growth in this industry here in Vermont, so in some ways it’s overdue, but I feel like it’s exactly the right time.”

Tickets, including discounted entry for students, veterans, and Northeast Kingdom residents, are still available and can be purchased here.

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