More in-person shows are on tap from Illinois and Vermont to Oklahoma and Maine in 2021 and 2022.
Almost two years since it's last in-person trade show, the New England Cannabis Convention returned from an extended pandemic timeout Friday - kicking off a run of "comeback" shows with a three-day stop in Boston at the Hynes Convention Center.
Organizers were planning for near maximum vendor capacity with hundreds of exhibitors - while also taking careful COVID-19 safety precautions as the City of Boston remains under an indoor mask mandate.
"It's fantastic. You can call it a comeback ... it feels phenomenal to be back," NECANN Co-Founder and President Marc Shepard told podcast host Jimmy Young on the Pro Cannabis Media Weed Talk News program, prior to the convention's Sept. 10 start. "We've got two exhibit halls in the Hynes that are just about at max capacity. We've had people signing up even the last few weeks."
In addition to vendor and exhibitor booths across every product, service, and business category in the cannabis industry, the Boston show and others that will follow have a jam-packed line-up of workshops, roundtables, seminars, classes, guest speakers, and other educational and policy-discussion programming.
Day Three of NECANN Boston - on Sunday, Sept. 12 - features the NECANN Canna Cup Competition to select the best cannabis and cannabis products (tested and reviewed prior to the show) - from a the results of a third-party 'blind' comparison. On Friday evening, culminating the first day of the Boston show, NECANN was scheduled to host its 3rd Annual Cannabis Community Awards ceremony and presentation - recognizing people and organizations that have helped the industry grow in New England.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the live trade show business across just about every industry that conducts such events - with the cannabis industry being no different. NECANN's entire schedule of 2020 shows and those scheduled for early 2021 were disrupted or canceled by the pandemic. Shepard and other organizers maintained contact with vendors, attendees, sponsors, and other stakeholders through a series of online events and educational seminars.
He told host Young from Weed Talk News that everything from touchless sanitation stations, extra wide aisles and space for vendors, and a strict policy on adherence to the city's mask mandate are being employed to keep all attendees safe.
"It's going to be no different than spending some time in the grocery store or CVS," Shepard said.
Other NECANN shows planned this year include Atlantic City, NJ October 2-3 and Portland, ME October 16-17. In-person shows are on tap for Illinois, Oklahoma, New York, and Vermont in 2022 - with the Boston show returning to its traditional dates in March of next year.