With new owners, High Times, only taking over the festival a week before it started, this year’s Cannabis Cup at Laketown Ranch suffered from uncertainty that affected the turnout for the event.
Despite such talented acts as Daniel Wesley on Thursday night, Aug. 24, and Magic! and House of Pain on Friday, Aug. 25, crowds were very small for the reputation of High Times and the size of the venue.
However, the event gathered some buzz by Saturday, when surprise headliner Lil Kim — added to the lineup only in the middle of the week — took the main stage.
By the final day, Sunday, however, there were still only about 200 fans at the event when Wyclef Jean, another last-minute addition to the lineup, stepped onstage in blistering 36 C heat, with all his listeners sheltering in the shade provided by the big marquee and signs.
The day wound up with musical-fusion group Dehli 2 Dublin and finally with Arrested Development, another 11th hour addition to the schedule.
Despite the small crowds, the performers really showed their professionalism.
For example, Wyclef Jean and Lil Kim are big names who can bring it and they did, but even Island acts like the Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer, excited to be performing on the biggest stage in western Canada but obviously a little disappointed to see so few people in front of them, still gave it all they had, earning themselves new fans along the way.
The setup of the festival was different this year, with all the cannabis displays and companies set up in one of the camping zones, outside the concert area.
Organizationally, Laketown Ranch handled camping and parking, and security, plainly based on last year’s event. Friday night there was a big security and police presence on hand in anticipation of the size of the crowd that came out for Bif Naked and Sublime with Rome in 2016. By Sunday, that had eased back noticeably.
Now that American-based High Times has bought this festival there’s a big spotlight on this event.
The new guys have already shown that they have the pull to bring in name acts on short notice.
Fans are looking forward to next year.