The Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival is moving to Berks County.
After holding a fall event at Renninger’s Farmers Market near Kutztown in October as a trial, the festival will return for its regular spring show on April 18 and 19.
“We’re really excited about bringing the festival to Berks County,” said festival co-founder Jeff Zick. “The October event was successful. We had close to 5,000 to 6,000 people attending. We’re using the whole grounds for the April event and expect 15,000 people.”
The free festival will feature more than 150 vendors, live music, and marijuana-centric speakers and discussion panels. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on both days. The festival is also accessible and leashed-pet friendly.
Last year an estimated 10,000 people attended the festival at Scranton’s Nay Aug Park.
The festival was started in 2015, and expanded each year, outgrowning the Scranton park. Parking and accessibility were deciding factors in relocating the festival, Zick said.
The move also brings the festival and its mission to a new audience.
“Scranton is really nice. We love it, but you do start to feel like you’re preaching to the choir,” Zick said.
Zick’s goal is to raise awareness to end the marijuana prohibition in the state, and to provide information access to affordable cannabis.
Vendors and speakers at the festival will include dispensaries, growers, pharmacists, doctors and others knowledgeable about cannabis. The festival celebrates marijuana for its medicinal, recreational and industrial uses as well as the positive aspects of the culture.
People will be able to ask medical experts questions specific to what their own experience with cannabis would be based on their health history. Three medical marijuana doctors will be on site for those with a card for medical marijuana to get certification at an affordable price.
“The goal is to not just be seen, but to get the mission across the goal line,” Zick said.
It also gives the public a chance to ask questions, express concerns and speak with experts about cannabis in a one-on-one setting as well as during panels.
“We need to have conversations with people whose opinions are different to know concerns on the topic,” Zick said. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between the (cannabis) culture and others. Everyone should have a seat at the table and a place to express concerns. We want everyone at the table. We’re all in the same boat.”
Part of bridging that gap is making the information easily available to the public which is why it is important to Zick to hold the festival in a more accessible setting and with free admission.
The idea for a festival started when Zick and his wife, Mandy, attended a cannabis festival in Colorado. Certain aspects of the the festival did not impress Zick and he wanted something better for Pennsylvania. So he founded the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival.
While learning from the negative aspects of the cannabis culture, Zick has made it a goal for the festival to promote the positive side of the culture. Part of that is being a good neighbor and making a good impression on the community. Zick and those involved with the festival participate in area cleanups and keep the festival grounds clean as part of that goal.
Moving the festival to Kutztown offers an opportunity for the festival organizers to impress new neighbors and reach a larger audience, which includes both returning and new attendees.
More information and a schedule can be found at penncannafest.com. The festival is April 18 and 19 at Renninger’s Farmers Market at 740 Noble St., Maxatawny Township.