Welcome to Florida, the home of some of the best cigar festivals throughout the year. As we move through the final months, October is the month for the annual Tampa Cigar Bash, the last of the festivals held annually here in the state. This year was the 10th anniversary event and it was chocked full of cigar brands right out of the Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor.
The main event was held on Saturday, October 19th, at the Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, but if you were local or planned to stay for a longer weekend, there were two pre-parties held at Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor:
- Oliva Pre-Party: Thursday, October 17th, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
- Rocky Patel Pre-Party: Friday, October 18th, 6:00–9:00 PM
As for me, I was only able to make the main event this year but that scratched my cigar festival itch for sure. Of course, this year there was a tropical storm (Nestor) bearing down on west coast of Florida which could have put a real damper (excuse the pun) on the event. Fortunately the organizers made sure their were tents for all the cigar vendors, food , and entertainment. The rain wasn’t going to keep these hard core cigar enthusiasts way anyhow.! On my way over from the east coast, I got caught is some torrential rain until just west of Orlando. As I got onto I-4, about 70 miles outside of Tampa, the cigar gods parted the clouds and brought me sunshine as I cruised into the Pepin Hospitality Centre. We only had one early down pour and then it was cigars, fun, and friendship there on.
Parking was ample and registration was a snap. Everyone got their tickets electronically on their phone, so all they had to be done was scan the QR code, hand you a Tampa Cigar Bash tote bag, and apply your wrist band. That was easy! Even better, the tote bag included all the cigars that came with ticket class you purchased. No book of tickets needed, no trick-or-treating lines to get the cigars. I like this. I guess if you wanted to not partake in any more of the fun, you could just leave with a your stash, but you would miss the amazing deals on cigar boxes being offered at the event. I am not sure if you could ever get these deals anywhere else. In many cases they were close to half off the retail price.
I had purchased a general admission ticket, as I was too slow making my mind up and V.I.P. tickets were sold out. The General admission was $150.00 and netted me like 40 plus cigars. A great deal indeed. The V.I.P. ticket was $225,00 but that got you extra cigars, a full open bar, and V.I.P. seating. The general admission folk like me had to pay for our drinks, but if you knew where to go, you could sample some rum cocktails all day over by the Trinidad cigars booth where they were featuring Havana Club Rum craft cocktails.
The gates opened at 12:00 Noon for the V.I.P. ticket holders and at 1:00 PM for general admission.
Brands and Deals
The advantage of the entering earlier was some of the deals had a limited quantity, so the V.I.P. ticket holders got first dibs on them. But there was plenty of deals to be had:
Fuente was offering a special sampler box that included some aged Opus X’s and if you bought it you also got a Carlito Bobble Head.
La Palina Cigars was offering the last 25 boxes of the original Little Bill cigars that were made at the Graycliff factory. That box was only $119.00. When they were gone, there was no more to be found. The box was actually very cool as it was designed to be used a small humidor also.
Gurkha Cigars was giving away knife sets with a purchase of a box of cigars:
Everywhere you went there were deals and swag. Just look at the brands that were represented this year, buy a box and get swag, shirts, ashtrays, cups, signs, and more :
There was also representation from Michael Noelle Leather Worx and Cigar Porn who were selling their products also. If you have never checked out the hand crafted leather goods from Michael Noelle Leather Worx, you should check out their website. You can also check our review of their leather cigar and accessory pouch here.
Cigar Enthusiasts Galore
It wasn’t all about the brands. Hard core brand enthusiasts and cigar lovers come out rain or shine to partake in the fun. No tropical storm was going to stop these folks from enjoying 5 hours of cigars, food, and drink.
Food and Drink
Speaking of food and drink, there was plenty to be had. Pulled pork, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, black beans and rice. and when it came to drink, there were numerous stand-up bars placed throughout the venue that offered for sale, mixed drinks, beer, wine and soft drinks. There was also a special drink station by the Trinidad Cigars booth that was serving up hand crafted Havana Rum Cocktails which were free for the taking, through the day.
Any cigar event needs music, and the local Florida, Bobby Friss Band did not disappoint. They belted out some of the best live classic rock covers through the day.
Raffles, Raffles, Raffles
Lastly, what would a cigar event be if there were not raffles? Well it would not be an event if you ask me. There was plenty of prizes given away later in the day. The best way to buy tickets was by the wing span. If you are not tall I suggest finding a tall friend to help you out.
The raffle tent had all the prizes lined up on a tables so you could preview what you may win.
If there was one dig I would state about the Tampa Cigar Bash this year, it was how they ran the raffle. I was not the only one complaining about it. They crowded everyone in the prize tent which was 2 tent rows away from the band stage. While the band was on their last set everyone was crowded in the prize tent trying to hear the number being drawn. No microphone was used.
As each number was called they would write it down and hold the board up again. If you had a winning number, you had to push through the crowd and then you got to select any prize off the table. If you were not in the tent area, because maybe you were watching the band, you would learn later that your number was called and then you were left to claim what was left. I get the idea of a pick a winner let them have first choice, and then the next winner, etc. But I stumbled upon the fact they were drawing numbers. This should have been done on the main stage between band sets, using a microphone, that is just my opinion.
Other than the way the raffle was done, the 10th Anniversary Tampa Cigar Bash was a terrific event and worth every cent spent for the ticket. It is one of the best in the state of Florida. At the end of the day, here is a view of the haul you got to take home.