The annual Colorado Invitational Bong-a-thon, which is actually recognized as America’s oldest 420-related event, is set to take place this year over Friday, July 31-August 2, in the appropriately named town of Stoner, CO. This pot-themed, weekend camping party gives cannabis users the chance to show off their competitive toking skills. Festival goers will bring their A-game to this annual Colorado event, where they will be able to participate in a slew of individual and group competitions, including a team bong-a-thon, a relay bong-a-thon, and a dab out race. It’s like the Olympics for stoners and definitely a highlight of their summer!

While the Bong-a-thon is a very welcoming event, it’s location gives the feel of an intimate and private festival, differing from other pot-themed festivals that receive a ton of publicity, like the famed Cannabis Cup in Denver. There is even a limit at 1,200 attendees, so if you don’t get your tickets in time, you are basically SOL. Local smokers love participating in this two-day camp out, where they are able to puff bowls with other like-minded people, without receiving any negative judgement whatsoever. Many veteran tokers return year after year to not only show off their iron lungs, but to also enjoy dispensary samples, live music, and check out glass blowers and pot-related products that numerous businesses bring in. Along with the ample amounts of weed that can be found on-site, there is also a free beer truck and an ice-incased dab rig for guests to freely use.

With a festival that works so hard to remain as an intimate gathering and stay out of the public eye, the Bong-a-thon has been receiving quite a bit of attention from Colorado commissioners as of recently. Thirty neighbors and residents of Montezuma County, where the festival takes place, have a big problem with the upcoming scheduled event. Worried about  the possibility of heavy traffic, loud noise, excessive trash and general safety of the community, officials were requiring the Bong-a-thon to attain a high-impact permit prior to carrying out the event. However, the permit was not submitted and complete with enough time for the county do to proper planning, so was therefore denied.

The denial of the permit isn’t putting a stop to these dedicated and determined stoners though. Organizers are still planning to go through with the Bong-a-thon, which is set to take place on a 50-acre property of Ted Clark, a resident of Stoner, CO. A road has been built to lead festival-goers to the camp site, however neighbors also have a problem with this too, claiming the road is unsafe due to blind spots and disrupt the family atmosphere of the town. They are also worried about Bong-a-thoners driving on the roads of their town while they are intoxicated. There have been talks from the county to close the road completely, except to residents, due to the fact that the permit for the festival did not go through anyways.

Ticket sales are still happening on the Bong-a-thon website, indicating that the festival will still be taking place whether it violates the land-use code or not. Based on county commissioners, the event’s organizer, Chris Jetter, could risk being issued a summons. It is not an arrestable offense, but Jetter could face fines of up to $1000. This event has already been happening for 32 years– it’s in a private and out-of-the-way destination, has an attendance limit, and takes place in a state that is one of the most accepting when it comes to cannabis– compared to other festivals, this one is definitely more tame and in my opinion, safer than many others. We say, let them smoke weed!