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Of Cantaloupes and Cannabinoids: California’s Historic State Fair Adds Weed to the Competition

No drought of dazzling talent among Cali’s top cultivators as state fair hands out its first cannabis awards.




Head cultivator Sarah Wright of Eureka, CA-based MOCA Humbolt, winner of two Golden Bear awards at the first California State Fair cannabis competition, is seen at one of the company’s grow facilities. PHOTO COURTESY MATT ENGEL MOCA HUMBOLT

There’s a new generation of farmers and breeders at the 166-year old California State Fair, and they’re not leading in the family’s prized cow. The annual Sacramento-held celebration of California’s agriculture, culture and corndogs now has its finest cannabis cultivators vying for a state blue ribbon.

Esensia-founders Ben Blake, left, and Marley Lovell share a laugh in their prize-winning fields in the lush mountains east of Hopland, CA. PHOTO COURTESY SYRA MCCARTHY @SYRANARA

For this year’s inaugural CA State Fair Cannabis Awards, more than 300 cultivars and cultivators from throughout the Golden State put their best buds before the eyes of the judge or, in this case, cannabis-testing facility SC Labs.

The science-based competition evaluated cannabis flower across three divisions: indoor, mixed light and outdoor to determine the winners in 10 categories: Cannabinoids consisting of CBDa, CBGa and THCa, as well as terpenes including myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, ocimene, terpinolene, pinene and a co-dominant category.

A total of 60 trophies and medals were awarded as well as the coveted Golden Bear Award for the “Best of California” overall blue-ribbon winners.

MOCA Humboldt, a Eureka, CA-based plant-touching dispensary, shone in the indoor cannabinoid categories receiving two Golden Bear awards. MOCA Humboldt’s Wookies strain bloomed to deliver a prize-winning 42.9% THCa content and its Grape Cookies took home honors for its 5.9% CBGa potency.


San Francisco, CA-based Esensia dominated the outdoor terpenes division with its plants grown in the Mayacama mountains east of Hopland, CA. — receiving two Golden Bears for its work. Esensia‘s Buddha’s Hand strain scored 1.62% for terpinolene and Esensia’s Lemon OG produced a 1.63% beta-caryophyllene yield.

Top prize at the California State Fair’s annual agricultural show is the Golden Bear Award.

Also noteworthy was Mendocino County’s Greenshock Farms, which won Golden Bears in the outdoor category for the cultivator’s Passion Orange Guava strain (ocimene content 1.16%) and its G Lime Burst securing the CBDa win (18.4%).

“Adding cannabis cultivation, alongside wine, craft beer, cheese and olive oil, was a perfect fit with the CA State Fair’s history of celebrating California’s rich agriculture history,” said California Exposition & State Fair board of director chair Jess Durfee.

For a full list of this year’s winners, please click here.





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