Coloradans love their weed. Unsurprisingly, they tend to enjoy competitions that involve their beloved cannabis and have fought to light it up in the spirit of competitive fun since 1974. Add a little mystery? Some vague hints and details? They will continue to eat that right up, like their smoking elders before them. One such event is the annual Bong-A-Thon.
Bong-a-Thon is an invitational event themed entirely around marijuana, taking place on Friday-Saturday, August 3-4. This competition, featuring a series of games, is considered Colorado's longest-running pot celebration. In order to maintain the integrity of the Thon, the location is only released after registering an invitation online. The tagline echoes this sentiment of mystery: "North America's oldest 420 event. Competitive toking since 1974: It's not a myth, it's a lifestyle!"
What is it? It's an opportunity to do some excessive pot smoking. Usually set in a giant, high-mountain field, Bong-a-Thon is a feat of pure, unadulterated fun. Haze fills the air as bands, participants (all over the age of 21), sponsors, and vendors crowd into the area to celebrate unlimited marijuana ingestion.
If you're not on the list, though, it might as well be a tall tale. Bong-a-Thon is for insiders only. The camp-in event maxes out at 1,200 tickets each year, hoping to maintain the small-time, intimate feel of the games compared to the massive presence of tournaments like the Cannabis Cup.
This is the Bong-a-Thon's main event. This competition involves a 7-gram can of cannabis, an 18-inch glass competition bong, and a Bong-a-Thon tray, poker, and lighter. The game is simple: Veteran tokers compete to suck down their supplied weed as fast as possible. The crowd goes wild as contestants (usually using aliases) smoke their stashes more quickly than most people roll a joint.
A little teamwork goes a long way. In the relay event, seven members line up, ready to tackle a gram of cannabis each. After every individual player has smoked their gram, they pass along the bong to the next member. The first team to smoke the entire quarter ounce wins glory, a wicked high, and best of all, Bong-a-Thon fame.
This event is for everyone. All invitees can grab their own bong, 3.5 grams of cannabis, and a personal loader, and enjoy the communal feat of smoking marijuana with all fellow Thon-ers.
The Fastest Gram event gives attendees an exciting thrill as they race to smoke their supply faster than the rest. The contestant supplies his or her own gram of cannabis and uses a Bong-a-Thon-supplied bong to race the clock. After several hazy rounds, the three fastest smokers will come center-stage and race against each other on Saturday evening. Fans will “Ooo…” and “Ahh…” and chant, "Do it for the gram!"
In the exercise world, "burning out" involves doing as many repetitions of a movement as possible until you quit, thus burning out your muscles. In Bong-a-Thon's Dab Out event, the same logic applies. Each contestant starts with a tenth of a gram of butane hash oil (known as earwax), which they'll dab. Every additional minute will add another tenth. The smoker will go until they can't go any further... until they dab out!
A group of five buddies gathers for this teamwork ganja event. Using a custom-made Bong-a-Thon glass hookah, the team will smoke an entire ounce of cannabis all at once. According to the Bong-a-Thon website, there is only one rule in the five-person hookah competition: There are no rules.