“Would you like a bag for your swag?” The brown haired young woman behind the check-in counter asks as she prints my name tag.

“Sure!” I reply. I had definitely been eyeing the beige shoulder bags floating around the large expo floor, wondering how I could get my hands on one.

The woman smiles and pulls a bag from the pile of boxes stacked behind her. “Indo Expo” is written in large, black letters across either side of the bag. I thank her and make my way over to the line for bag check. Once passed security, I’m finally able to take in my surroundings.

The Denver Mart expo building is a large, brightly lit room that, when empty of booths, must seem like an airplane hangar. Attendees and exhibitors bustle by, and the many conversations reverberate throughout the giant space. Growers, PR specialists, joint cone companies, printers, and even ATM companies are stationed throughout the area, which I soon discover has many smaller pockets of booths and long hallways stretching past food vendors that eventually lead to the breakout session halls. I’m stunned as the realization hits me that six months in this industry has barely given me time to scratch the surface of what goes on outside of my small marketing bubble.

As I wait for Damian to arrive on-site, I make my way through the throngs of people, getting a better handle on where everything is. I take mental notes of where certain booths are in relation to the many exits and hallways so I (hopefully) know where I am at all times. I steer clear of conversation for the time being, not wanting to expose my ignorance of all of the knowledge flowing around me, praying that Damian will be able to act as the bridge between myself the vendors once he shows up. I’m itching to learn more about everything this place has to offer.

Damian eventually appears, and we take off for one of the many pop-up bars lining the perimeter of the expo. We pass grower upon grower, each babbling away excitedly to anyone who will listen to their spiel about their unique product. We eventually stop at a booth occupied by a young woman named Stephanie. She walks us through the bath bombs display and explains that her brand also sells CBD concentrates, tinctures, and other products. She even allows us to take a sample of a CBD wax called “Girl Scout Cookies”. We grab her information and move along.

Damian spots a friend at the next booth, and we stop to say hello. The next couple hours completely blow my mind as Damian ambles around the expo with me in toe, getting lost in complicated conversations about seeds, grow lights, and so many other topics I still cane barely remember or even wrap my head around. Regardless, I cling to every word, hoping that a light bulb will go off and everything will become clear. No such luck this time. It’s all so fascinating despite my inability to keep up with all of it (thank goodness for Damian, who did his best to reiterate after each conversation).

By the end of the day, my brain and legs are exhausted. Between the walking and all the information flying at me, it’s a wonder my entire being isn’t a puddle on the floor by now. Still, the information and new potential vendors I’ve collected throughout the day has made it all completely worth the sore legs (and brain!). Now that I have my first cannabis expo under my belt, I feel infinitely more prepared for the next one. These types of events seem to be built for everyone from beginning recreational grower to expert dispensary business owner. If you get the chance to go to one of these, you absolutely should!