Day one kicked off under truly vicious heat conditions — the 109 degree heat was only two digits shy of the 2007 record. This blazing heat (and the mechanical failure of extra cooling infrastructure brought in by Chalice) provided Friday’s main hurdle: While revelers at the main stage danced to Cypress Hill and Thievery Corporation, the Chalice team was in full damage control mode and prepping for day two.
Before the gates opened for day two on Saturday, Chalice founder (and Hitman Glass and Coffee Shop owner) Doug Dracup sat down with Cannabis Now for an exclusive interview on the now mainstream pot mega fest.
“I’m really happy with year four,” Dracup said, highlighting the challenges he faced in the early going. “There is a big difference when you’re dealing with a 109 degree temperature compared to 99.”
Dracup said his team was the key to wrangling the moving parts, whether it was vendors, attendees or the many companies contracted for the weekend.
“We spent the night putting out fires,” he said. “[The team] was amazing.”
The full-time staff of five — plus Dracup — spent their Friday night crisscrossing the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, refilling air conditioner reservoirs with water and making sure the faulty rentals were back in working order.
Dracup took responsibility for the events that unfolded Friday, but said he was frustrated by outside influences that tainted the kickoff.
“The A/C vendor slipped,” Dracup said. “It sucks to work all year on something only to have events beyond our control happen.”
Dracup also said there was only so much they could do: Weather reports early in the week had been predicting all three days of the event to be north of 100 on the thermometer, so attendees knew (or should have known) they were going to party in a desert heatwave.
Like the tally of attendees and A-listers, the number of vendors has grown over the years, rising to nearly 400 this year. In the age of California legalization, these vendors had to jump through more hoops than ever before, and they pulled it off with a perfect score.
The main hurdle was getting a seller’s permit from the Board of Equalization, the body that collects all the state’s cannabis tax revenue. The team had been prepping for a single digit “failure to comply” rate and presumed they’d have to send a few vendors packing.
To their delight, that ultimately wasn’t the case.
According to Dan Adler, the Chalice staffer who assisted vendors with compliance, they had about a 60 percent compliance rate with two weeks to go, but in the final stretch, the BOE and vendors got it all in order.
Chalice may indeed have been the most heavily-permitted cannabis event ever: In addition to the vendor permits, things like the concerts, ferris wheel and numerous temporary structures came with plenty of paperwork.
And while there were many attractions at Chalice, in the end, cannabis was the true star of the show.
Over the past few years, Chalice’s cannabis competition has elevated its reputation, and is now considered among the best: Be it flowers or hash, the judge’s kits are always something to behold. This year, Chalice spent nearly six figures just on dab rigs alone — not the hash, not the crazy accessories, just the glass.
During the week leading up the festival, event judges scoured the massive packs for their favorite offerings. And making it into the judge’s kit this year was more difficult than ever before, with the strictest pesticide rules ever in place.
The preroll category saw the most prolific failure rate, with 80 percent of entrants not meeting the standards of the contest. The solvent category saw 27 of the 82 entries fail, while the flower categories only had 11 failures in 87 entries.
The awards featured many familiar faces. Nameless Genetics took home the top CBD concentrate prize with their 29:1 CBD Crystals. Many collabs were in the mix when it came time for the award ceremony: In the solvent category, the top spot went to the sativa winner Blood Orange, an offering from Panacea, Luxe and Hive — who also had the third spot in the sativa category with their Honeydewz. In the solventless hash category, Clementine 91 from The Proper Extracts was crowned king.
When it came to distillates there wasn’t much of a competition — Gold Drop and Blue River collabs took home everything but the kitchen sink, placing first, second and third.
In one of the most competitive flower contests ever, the Jungle Boys took home first place in both the indica and sativa categories. Top indica honors went to Purple Punch, which was edged out by top sativa Mimosa #26 for best in show honors.
The Mimosa also edged out Nameless Genetics Watermelon — which we featured in our Coachella coverage — and another phenotype of itself, Mimosa #27. I consider the Watermelon a savage strain, but find it completely justifiable to give the nod to the Mimosa #26, which continually has me awestruck.
The indica runners up were also pure flame: Second place was given to Blood Walker, a collaboration from Los Angeles Kush, CHR and Flight Farms. San Francisco dispensary Urban Pharmacy and grower Bickey took home the indica bronze for their Lemon Pound Cake.
Even prior to the awards ceremony, The Jungle Boys proved to be one of the most coveted bags of the weekend. Before the gates even opened to general admission on Saturday, the Jungle Boys’ makeshift dispensary was completely packed: If you got in line at 11:45 a.m., before the event even started, you were looking at a roughly two and a half hour wait for your cannabis — thankfully in an area with A/C.
I have zero regrets for partaking in this process.
Their spread was something to behold. You could literally smell the months of preparation in every bud they found worthy enough to make the trip from LA to Victorville. The spread included their famous Purple Punch, which is arguably the best purple in LA, the up and coming Sundae Driver (which was in development for two years), Wedding Cake, Sunset Sherbert, various phenos of Starburst x Purple Punch and many phenos of the best in show winner, Mimosa, which the Jungle Boys say is the perfect brunch weed.
Northern California’s best growers were also not missing out on the high desert fun. Straight from the Emerald Triangle, perennial Emerald Cup winners 3rd Gen Family/Dying Breed Seeds brought the heat with their cup-winning Zkittlez, still a premium strain after six years on the market. The newer Roze was also on display along with Hindu Zkittlez — expect Roze to follow its predecessors into the full hype stratosphere in the coming years.
Sacramento was also in the house. Indoor crushers Alien Labs made the trip south following their runner-up spot at last month’s High Times NorCal Cannabis Cup. Their offerings included the cup runner-up Wedding Cake, the most savage Gelato not grown by Sherbinski himself and three new Dosidos crosses sure to blow the roof off. Also included was the new and ultra-rare Zookies — it’s believed the batch that Alien Labs brought to Chalice was the first time it has made its way to SoCal.
“We never have a plan,” said Ted of Alien Labs with a laugh. “This is the first time we really planned for an event six months out.”
Last month’s cup winners, Fig Farms, brought their best. Unfortunately, that didn’t include their pheno which took top honors — it’s still about eight weeks out from harvest. Regardless, they brought a Purple Guava and a Purple Fig #5 equally deserving of their sibling’s accolades.
TELL US, were you at Chalice? How was it?