Northwest Leaf has occupied local dispensary news stands for as long as I can remember. So when I got the opportunity to attend the inaugural NW Leaf Bowl over the weekend, I was eager to see just what this magazine had to offer for a live event.
I’d seen pictures from other Leaf Bowls (if you’re not familiar, Leaf Magazines also run Maryland, Alaska, Oregon, California, and Northeast Leaf), so I had a general idea of what to expect in terms of pizzazz. After bypassing the long line winding toward the sidewalk (yeah, I have friends in high places), I got to take a walk down the green carpet – a curtained hallway with glowing green cubes illuminating the floor, before reaching the rotating displays showcasing functional art from Mothership Glass.
As the line to the open bar in the main room grew and friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances took turns posing for the photobooth, seats began to fill. I did a few laps of the two-level event, checking out the displays on the upper level, snacking on fruit from the snack table, and taking in the outfits, which ranged from classy and sparkly attire to casual ensembles that evoked a sense of “wait, is this a formal event?” Before I knew it, all of the seats were occupied and crowds were gathering on the perimeter to get a glimpse of the stage.
Mike Ricker, operating partner for NW Leaf and charismatic announcer kept the energy going while decked out in a matching sequined jacket and bow tie. The crowd felt very supportive, cheering every runner up and winner for standing out in Washington’s market.
Which brings me to my favorite part of the event: my personal humbling experience. After attending multiple MJ Unpackeds, which bring together brands and retailers from across the country, I forgot how huge my local market is. I have my personal favorites in Washington, but the NW Leaf Bowl reminded me that I have only dabbled in a small percentage of what one of the first recreational markets has to offer. For that, I’m grateful and excited to have a whole new list of products and brands to try, including Khush Khush, Painted Rooster Cannabis Co., and Dewey Cannabis.
Bringing many of Washington’s industry players together also reminded me of something important: Washington’s industry is painfully far from being diverse and equitable. This is not a NW Leaf problem, but a Washington one. With the state slowly working on doing better, I hope the landscape will change in the future.
With all that said, big congratulations to the brands who brought home the prize or runner-up trophy, including Verdelux for the best candy, Möbius for the best beverage, and Bacon Buds for the best traditional pre-roll. Check out the full list of winners and runner ups here.