KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first ever Missouri Growers Cup is combining the Kansas City metro’s long-time love of competition over a craft, like bar-be-queuing, with its much newer industry: cannabis.

“[We’re] judging on all four of those things: taste, look, smell, high,” said Oregon Tek’s Nathan Marsh, who is helping run the event and runs similar competitions in other states. “You’ve got to be great at all of those things. You’ve got to have a pleasant experience and effect on the consumer. You’ve got to taste good, look good, and smell good.”

He says competitions like this one allow the industry to come together and appreciate what used to be a strictly underground community.

“The Growers Cup is really about paying respects to and honoring some of the growers in the State of Missouri,” said Besa Hospitality Group’s Joey Pintozzi, which runs Smokey River Entertainment District, where The Growers Cup will be hosted.

It’s fresh off 420 Fest in April, when it was one of the first venues in the state to allow open consumption of marijuana. It took special steps to set up specific areas where only cannabis could be consumed to follow state law.

Events like that one and competitions like the Growers Cup help keep chipping away at the stigma around marijuana.

“It’s about normalizing cannabis, honoring those growers in the state just like you would a Master Brewer or a Master Chef,” Pintozzi said.

Smokey River Entertainment District is getting ready for more events through the end of 2023, including a big event around Halloween. Similar festivals will happen in 2024 before construction is anticipated to start on more permanent structures and music venues around the grounds in 2025.

“We can come in here it’s a blank canvas, and kind of paint whatever we want to paint,” Pintozzi said.

The Growers Cup is September 23.