NoCo Hemp Expo Going SoCo to Colorado Springs in 2023

The Northern Colorado Hemp Expo, known as the NoCo Hemp Expo since it started over eight years ago, won’t be so northern anymore.

Organizers of the annual trade show have announced that the ninth NoCo Hemp Expo will take place at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs March 29-31, 2023, moving south from its last digs in the Denver area.

The first NoCo Hemp Expo took place in 2014 at the Ranch Events Complex in Loveland before eventually moving on to various arenas in Aurora and Denver, including the Crowne Plaza Denver, Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center and National Western Complex. Finding a permanent home has never been easy for organizers for a variety of reasons, with a pot-hating sheriff in Larimer County, the expo’s growth, COVID-19 and even a refugee and homeless shelter all playing a role in location issues.

The expo’s most recent home, the Gaylord, was booked after the Crowne Plaza had to drop out in 2022 because it had been chartered by the State of Colorado for a “transitional housing site for humanitarian purposes.” Although the Gaylord was accommodating, it’s booked for 2023 until the weekend of April 8, notes NoCo co-founder Morris Beegle, and that coincides with Easter.

The Crowne Plaza is also fully scheduled for spring 2023, Beegle says, and the National Western Complex — home to the expo in 2021 after a pause in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic — is currently undergoing construction and renovations. The Colorado Convention Center, another potential host considered by Beegle, is too full in late March, when he’d prefer to hold the event.

Without a possibility in metro Denver, organizers looked around and even outside of Colorado, eventually settling on the Broadmoor, a hotel in operation in Colorado Springs since 1918 that has added considerable convention space.

“We wanted it all under one roof, and really couldn’t find anything in the Denver area that checked all of the boxes,” Beegle says. “The Gaylord was great and easy to work with, but when we looked at 2023 and 2024, the only dates available there were going into Easter weekend, and we didn’t want to ask people to travel that weekend.”

The Broadmoor is all aboard with hemp, Beegle says, even though it’s owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who’s opposed marijuana legalization and funded anti-legalization campaigns in Colorado in the past; his Colorado Springs and Denver Gazette publications frequently editorialize against Colorado’s stance on cannabis. Colorado Springs and Mayor John Suthers have never welcomed recreational marijuana legalization, either, but Beegle sees the two industries in different spaces.

“They don’t want a marijuana event there, but they do believe in the environmental benefits of hemp. My understanding after meeting with the Broadmoor is that Colorado Springs is trying to become a little more progressive,” he says.

Now that the event is going SoCo, Beegle says it will probably have a slightly different name in 2023, but he wants to keep “NoCo” involved in some capacity. He’s not ruling out a return to Denver or moving somewhere else in the future, but Beegle says the expo has the option of returning to the Broadmoor on the same weekend in March in 2024 and 2025. “This is the perfect facility for the NoCo Hemp Expo to grow in for years to come. It provides us a really great facility to bring in international corporations and corporate America,” he notes.

Colorado’s hemp industry had a hot start after federal hemp legalization in 2018, but began stumbling shortly after. Significantly fewer farmers are growing the plant since hemp prices dropped, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and Beegle believes that publicly funded companies have shown less interest as the federal government continues to decline to regulate CBD, a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis that’s become a popular wellness supplement.

“People think hemp is dead, but that’s not true. We’re kind of in a lull right now, but I think it’s going to bottom out soon and go up from there,” Beegle says.

The hemp industry has largely depended on CBD and gray-area cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC, both of which have heavily fluctuated in pricing since federal legalization. Beegle would like to see hemp transition more to grain, bioplastics, biofuels, construction and other industries that depend on the plant’s fibers. The expo is going to trend more toward a business-to-business focus to reflect that, he says, with a small emphasis on consumer vendors and scheduling — though there will still be at least one day open to the general public in 2023.

More information on the NoCo Hemp Expo, including an event and speaker lineup, vendor list and potentially that new name, will be announced in the months to come.