From CBD tinctures, lotions and cosmetics to hemp food, fiber and fashion—and from hemp building materials to pet products—the Inaugural Southern Hemp Expo featured 100 exhibitors, 50 speakers and nearly 4,000 attendees. Moreover, it brought the burgeoning hemp conversation to Nashville—and the region proved it’s ready.
Nashville, TN -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/11/2018 --The organizers of the Southern Hemp Expo (SHE), who created the world's first hemp industry gathering in Colorado in 2013, brought their concept of a trade and consumer exposition plus a dedicated business conference and agriculture symposium to Nashville because they believed the South was ripe for a hemp conversation. They had no idea how ripe the market was.
Nearly 4,000 farmers, entrepreneurs, investors, retailers, consumers and others gathered at the first-year event, held at the Fairgrounds Nashville on September 28-29. They came to interact with and learn about the exploding hemp market from 100 sponsors and exhibitors and more than 50 experts from the "Let's Talk Hemp Stage." In addition, a sold-out full-day business conference held in conjunction with the show affirmed the depth of entrepreneurial and investor interest in a hemp market expected to grow to over $3 billion in sales by 2022.
"The Southern Hemp Expo was extremely fruitful," said Joe Fox, CEO of Blühen Botanicals, a leading producer of premium hemp extracts based in Knoxville, TN, and presenting sponsor of the event. "Our agricultural advisors met with farmers from across the country at the show to discuss the best methods for growing premium hemp. The hemp wellness industry is expanding rapidly, largely driven by innovative niche applications. We developed a number of strategic partnerships as a result of the Southern Hemp Expo that will quickly position Blühen Botanicals as a leader in the largest channels of this industry," he said.
Hemp Innovation and Expertise on Display
Exhibitors and product innovations at the show included Lexington, KY-based online hemp products retailer Anavii Market; chocolates made with hemp seed by Laura's Mercantile, a new business launched by Laura's Lean Beef founder Laura Freeman; and other local and national vendors. One exhibit that struck a chord with everyone at SHE featured musicians and a group of veterans from Warfighter Hemp, a company launched to advocate for CBD and hemp extract as an alternative to opioids for veterans dealing with pain and injuries. The group donates 50% of its profits to nonprofits that support veterans' independence.
Former NFL players Jake Long and Matt Wilhelm, advocates for hemp and CBD for athletes, were featured speakers at SHE, along with hemp food pioneer John Roulac, founder of Nutiva and Re: Botanicals; Colleen Keahy Lanier, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association; Joe Hickey, who planted the nation's first modern-day hemp crop in 1994 with actor and hemp advocate Woody Harrelson; and many others.
The two-day event had the whole town talking hemp, as every major TV network affiliate aired reports about the expo and renowned NewsChannel5 Network TV host Nick Beres devoted the full hour of his MorningLine Nashville show to hemp on September 27, where he interviewed SHE co-producer Morris Beegle live on the show.
The South's Next Big Cash Crop
Tennessee began allowing farmers to grow hemp in 2015, and now experts believe it could become one of the state's biggest cash crops, according to FOX 17 News in Nashville, providing a desperately needed alternative to tobacco. Farmers haven't had a new commodity crop since soybeans were introduced in the 1920s. They are ready to grow hemp, and transitioning to hemp would be relatively easy, experts say.
Since Tennessee launched the hemp farming pilot program monitored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the program has expanded every year, according to The Tennessean, and now more than 220 farmers are growing hemp on more than 3,400 Tennessee acres. According to an August 2018 report, 35 states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp production.
"Tennessee is the sleeping giant when it comes to cannabis and industrial hemp," said Joshua Camp, CEO of LabCanna, a Franklin, TN-based wholesaler and retailer of hemp extracts, to The Tennessean healthcare reporter Brett Kelman, who interviewed a number of local and national exhibitors at the Southern Hemp Expo. "We have all the agricultural prowess of other states, but we also have money and we have health care and we have tech. We have all the components here that make it an opportunity for explosive growth," Camp said.
"I believe Tennessee, Kentucky and other regions in the South will become leading hemp producers, and the overwhelming interest we saw at SHE confirms that belief," said Colorado Hemp Company co-founder Morris Beegle, who produces the Southern Hemp Expo as well as the Colorado-based NoCo Hemp Expo. "The hemp industry is going to see exponential growth over the next year, and Colorado Hemp Company plans to continue providing opportunities for industry leaders and increasingly interested consumers to gather, network, learn, and build a strong, united community. We can't wait to return to Nashville next fall to further this industry's progress and keep this conversation flowing," Beegle said.
Thank You to Our Sponsors
Blühen Botanicals of Knoxville, TN, was this year's presenting sponsor of the Inaugural Southern Hemp Expo. Other sponsors included GenCanna, Kat's Naturals, LabCanna, Lilu's Gardens, Softgel Co., Bluebird Botanicals, ProVerde Labs, Kazmira, Anavii Market, Bish Equipment, WillPower Products, Restorative Botanicals, Colorado Hemp Project, Palmetto Harmony, Hempsac, The Hemp Road Trip, and Silver Mountain Hemp Guitars. The Hemp Happy Hour media booth was hosted by CV Sciences, maker of +CBDOil.
About the Southern Hemp Expo
The Southern Hemp Expo is produced by the Colorado Hemp Company, a division of WAFBA LLC (We Are For Better Alternatives), based in Loveland, CO, and producer of NoCo Hemp Expo, the world's largest and most comprehensive trade show and conference for industrial hemp. WAFBA is founder of TreeFreeHemp paper and printing services and the Colorado Hemp Company. Areas of focus include product and brand development, event production, consulting and advocacy. Learn more at SouthernHempExpo.com, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Upcoming Hemp Industry Events
2nd Annual Hawaii Hemp Conference, Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, HI. Dec. 1, 2018, featuring industry leaders such as Hemp Bound author Doug Fine, Hawaii Farmers Union President Vincent Mina and Hawaii Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the state's Committee of Agriculture and Environment. Produced by Colorado Hemp Company, last year's debut conference drew hundreds of people from the islands, 26 U.S. states and 19 countries.
Winter Hemp Summit, Fort Collins, CO, January 11, 2019, a new symposium produced by Colorado Hemp Company and featuring a town hall-style forum and networking event where participants will present a year-in-review recap and look ahead to 2019 and 2020.
6th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, Crowne Plaza Convention Center, Denver, CO, March 29-30, 2019, the nation's leading hemp trade and consumer business exposition and dedicated business conference and agricultural symposium, produced by Colorado Hemp Company.
Steven Hoffman, Compass Natural
Morris Beegle, Colorado Hemp Company