editorial

Op-Ed: Post-Headies Gratitude and Honoring the Legacy Market

Monica Donovan 17 Apr 2022

As I write this from my couch and the warm snuggles of my pup and my partner, I’m exhausted but full of gratitude and happiness. Yesterday, with the immeasurable help of volunteers, sponsors, vendors and competitors, we pulled off our third Headies Cup at The Barns at Lang Farm.

From a quick count of our attendees and other assorted guests, it looks like we welcomed at least 800 people to the barn on Saturday. Wow! I think I can safely say that we wildly exceeded our expectations. Congrats not just to our winners, but to ALL of the competitors for sharing their incredible work. We’ll be showcasing the entries more over the next few days.

Anyone who’s ever been involved in event production knows that it can get a little hectic on the big day. In my sleep-deprived¬† scramble, I didn’t really get to say everything I wanted to say on stage and felt it important to share a few more thoughts.

This cup originated as a legacy cup – our first year, we had about 65 entries, many of them under anonymous handles from longtime Vermont growers, something we very much saw in the second year as well.

Many of my friends are growers who have been operating in the shadows for decades. They operate daily, doing what they love, with the understanding that it could all be taken away in a second.

Since the 2020 awards party, we’ve seen a global pandemic, lost members of our community, and approved adult use cannabis sales in Vermont. When we picked up the Cup back up in late 2021 and I started working with competitors again, I saw a noticeable shift in the entries – more business names and less anonymous handles. And even as I’ve been working on day-to-day stuff,¬† I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of the Cup and what the recent changes in Vermont mean for legacy growers.

Many of my friends are growers who have been operating in the shadows for decades. Some have done time in prison. They’ve had to clear out their grow rooms at a moment’s notice. They’ve had their plants and their product seized and lost tens of thousands of dollars in a single day. They operate daily, doing what they love, with the understanding that it could all be taken away in a second. As someone who’s been incarcerated as a direct impact of the War on Drugs, I’m familiar with the weight of being ensnared in the legal system. It sucks and I wish it on no one.

When we passed the adult use bill in October of 2020, I had mixed feelings about the success of our efforts. I was burned out as hell from the political conflict leading up to its passage, and happy that we got it through, but in a lot of ways it also felt like a loss.

When we passed the adult use bill in October of 2020, I had mixed feelings about the success of our efforts. I was burned out as hell from the political conflict leading up to its passage, and happy that we got it through, but in a lot of ways it also felt like a loss. My sense is that many legacy growers have mixed feelings about the impending legal market as well, and what it means for them.

Whatever we do with this Cup next, it’s important – in fact, the first priority – is making sure that The Headies Cup continues to represent these OG growers, whether they are joining the adult use market in an official capacity or not. This is essential, and something I didn’t get to fully convey on stage yesterday. In coming weeks, we’ll be surveying, taking feedback, and asking growers what they want to see out of the next competition. And we will listen.

I do understand that to many growers sativas and indicas feel like an almost arbitrary way to categorize strains. In working with our master judge Joe Veldon earlier this year, he made the point that these generalized designations are for consumers as well – when someone buys weed, they really just want to know how it makes them feel. And the big focus of the Awards Party itself is building consumer awareness of these growers and makers.

Whatever we do with this Cup next, it’s important – in fact, the first priority – is making sure that The Headies Cup continues to represent these OG growers, whether they are joining the adult use market in an official capacity or not.

So as we take feedback for 2023, we may look at how we categorize and divide entries, keeping all of these things in mind. Whatever we do, we’ll want to keep the playing field level. The best weed is the best weed, period.

Finally, I didn’t get to thank everyone I needed to – Thank you to my partner Judd for his endless support of my efforts, even though it’s slowed down our life and personal goals. I could not have done this without him. Thank you to our awesome crew of volunteers, including some of our former core crew Kathy, Erin, Kelly and Karen. A volunteer thank you sesh is in the works!

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting the Cup and our vendors for rocking their booths. Thank you to our competitors for sharing their incredible talents, and our judges, especially Joe Veldon, for their thoughtful feedback. Thank you to the band for bringing the awesome tunes, and to Lang Farm for hosting us. This Cup is not about me, or Heady Vermont – it’s about all of you. YOU made it happen. Thank you.

Humbly Yours,
Monica

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