Friday morning was bathed in sunlight which promised a fantastic day. At 11am the gates of Cultiva opened wide. We collected our tickets and joined the stream of people heading for the entrance. Right at the entrance we were welcomed by two lovely sexy girls, who gave us our first goody bag, containing posters, stickers, a booklet of discount vouchers and a guide to the exhibition. Austria is great because hemp cultivation is not prosecuted until the plants begin to form flowers, or until the plant produces marijuana, so thanks to this legislation you can see hemp plants not just in Austrian clone stores, but also in growshops and headshops. Cultiva is, of course, no exception, so this is the only exhibition in Europe in which we come across both small and mature cannabis plants, literally at every step. We saw the first plants just beyond the entrance to the exhibition, where several of them were growing in passive irrigation systems. We went further and zigzagged through the entrance floor to the main exhibition space. In the foyer we passed people selling books and clothing, but also peyote and the ubiquitous growers’ LED panels.
The main exhibition space offers a complete mix of everything you can think of to do with hemp – from seeds from both famous and less well-known seedbanks, through fertilisers and cultivation systems to bongs, vaporisers and lighters. At the edges of the pyramid there were cooking demonstrations and workshops, at which visitors could listen to lectures on the practical status of hemp in various countries of the world in medicine and industry. All weekend, on the balcony of the main hall, there were glass-making demonstrations, in which you could watch bongs and other interesting creations being made from glass. We went from the main hall into the final room of the exhibition, where there were several stands of hemp cosmetics and live predators of pests were on sale. There were also more interesting workshops in this area. The production of hemp concrete and other building materials made of hemp was modelled. Anyone who was interested could have a go at playing the didgeridoo – we didn’t get our turn because the queue was too long. Time passed quickly and we ran to have a look at the garden stage, where the duo Air Rapide was giving a concert – one boy on the drums and the other on the didgeridoo. They were fantastic. The audience really enjoyed it, they smoked and some of them undulated to the rhythm of the energetic music. For dinner we had an excellent Sri Lankan curry and rice in the bistro opposite the garden stage and slowly we swung through the early evening to both the parties thrown on the Friday night at Cultiva. We went to bed at around 3am…
On Saturday we really didn’t much want to get up, but we couldn’t stay in bed. What is more, through the windows we could see another lovely day. We got to the exhibition after 1pm and had to fall in with the crowds of visitors, of whom there were visibly more than on the previous day. On Saturday the exhibitors really had to work – they weren’t just selling their goods, but also giving out hats, posters, stickers, catalogues, t-shirts, seeds and many other samples. There were also lots of competitions with prizes, which are always crowd-pleasers. Each competition or wheel of fortune was bursting with visitors wanting to try their luck, even if the prize was only a lighter.
On the Saturday we wanted to concentrate on technical innovations in cultivation. In recent years it is noted that the greatest growth has been in LED lighting for cultivation of plants. Cultiva 2015 was no exception. Here, too, there were countless producers of this advanced lighting. People are greatly interested in it and you could often hear discussions about whether LED modules can replace the still-popular high pressure discharge lamps. One thing is certain – the price of LED modules is still quite high, but the good news is that for a higher price you can buy modules manufactured in Europe from high-quality components. Otherwise there weren’t so many innovations. Definitely worth mentioning are the new grow cabinets from HOMEbox, which were presented here in brand-new coats – the outer fabric is now beige, so the box will look much better in your flat and is not nearly so intrusive an element as the black cloth box… The new variety by Dutch Passion, called Frisian Duck, has gained great popularity. It has deliberately misshaped leaves, so identifying it in the wild and in the garden is much more difficult for ordinary mortals.
On Saturday we made a trip into town and ended up in the Flex nightclub – returning at 4am meant nothing good for Sunday.
On Sunday we were very tired, so we spent our time relaxing and talking with friends. We had one last currywurst from Big Mamma’s and a quarter of a pizza for an early evening snack, and it was time to set off home again. Next year is definitely not to be missed! You should go too, it really is worth.