Some things just go perfectly together. There’s chocolate and peanut butter, wine and cheese, and, for the 420-friendly crowd, weed and music.
With that last one in mind, CEP Presents has organized what’s being touted as Michigan’s largest cannabis consumption event: The Smokers Ball Music Festival. But this first-year soiree isn’t just about lighting up and watching headlining performances from the likes of Juicy J, Devin the Dude, Dizzy Wright, Trick Trick and Gangsta Boo.
The one-day bash, which takes over Adado Riverfront Park on Saturday, also brings other elements and attractions into the fold, such as local vendors, food trucks and artwork. It’s a mixed bag that Nick Schrock, the event’s operations director, said is a long time in the making.
“CEP Presents was founded by our CEO, Germaine Redding, over 20 years ago when he was at Michigan State University,” Schrock said. “We went from promoting small, college campus events to large festivals across the country.”
Schrock said he estimates about 10,000 people will attend this inaugural Smokers Ball, an event he hopes will become annual. Of course, this isn’t their first rodeo.
In April, CEP Presents hosted the 2nd annual Lansing 420 Music Festival at Adado Riverfront Park. It drew approximately 8,000 people. The group has also kept busy hosting consumption festivals in Niles, Michigan. And while the Smokers Ball is about curating a fun evening, it’s a way to recognize progress.
“The goal is just to celebrate cannabis being legal recreationally in the state of Michigan,” Schrock said. “We’re bringing together music and cannabis, which share similar cultures. It’s a celebration of bringing that together for the cannabis community.”
The state-licensed event includes over 20 cannabis brands on-site, retail and consumption areas, 10 food trucks and a section of local art. Locals will recognize some of the vendors on-site, including Kushy Punch, Breeze Canna, Jeeter, Church Cannabis Co., MKX and Pure Options, according to Schrock.
“We partner with the best brands in the state because we want to have some good music and food, but also good products — and these are some of the top-rated brands in their respective areas in the state of Michigan.”
Along with the headliners, and several other rap performers, the lineup also comprises some R&B, Tejano, Latin and reggae acts. For those looking for a heightened experience, a $200 V.I.P. pass includes a swag bag, laminate, exclusive viewing area, private restrooms and a juice bar.
Leading up to the Smokers Ball, Schrock said there was an expected long list of behind-the-scenes to-dos to take care of before showtime.
“These events have to be approved through the State of Michigan, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, 90 days before the event,” he said. “This event had to be approved by May 13, which means we started planning this event back in February. It’s a full six-month planning process. You have to align vendors and sponsors, get approval and (deal with) compliance issues around city ordinances, state ordinances and cannabis-specific laws.”
Learning the ropes has not only benefited their own company, but others looking to grow in the market. Since marijuana consumption at ticketed events is still uncharted territory for many promoters nationwide, CEP offers consulting services to those looking to learn how to navigate the paperwork.
“Cannabis events are new to Michigan and most states because cannabis has recently been legalized,” Schrock said. “We get calls weekly from groups across the country that want to utilize our services to help them figure out how to plan their events. It’s something new and there’s a lot of regulation and compliance stuff that has to be done behind the scenes.”
While these events bring thousands of people out to downtown Lansing, Schrock said a common misconception is they cater to one demographic. Instead, he hopes events like this can educate the entire community on the benefits of cannabis while providing a unifying, fun event for people of all backgrounds.
“We have people that attend these events that are 21, all the way up to 75,” he said. “It’s all-inclusive. It’s not just for a certain demographic. We have college kids and grandmothers that attend the event. Whether or not you do or do not consume cannabis, it’s a great time for a festival in an open-air environment.”
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