Why has is it been a number of years since I ventured over to Ybor City, Florida? I know it is just a 2 hour jaunt from the Stogie Press office, but I just have been so busy that when I want to go, something seems to pop in my life and put the visit on hold. Well this year I was determined to get back to Cigar City, USA and have some fun. I chose to trek on over to attend the annual Ybor City Heritage Cigar Festival, which strangely, is the first time I have ever been to it. I was told by many that I met at this years festival, that it is was the largest yet and has been getting bigger every year. Why not? The cigar culture expanded greatly through 2020 and into 2021. People were itching to get out and enjoy good times with fellow cigar enthusiasts.
This years Cigar Heritage Festival took place Dec 5, 2021 and is billed as the “Worlds Largest Cigar Festival”. General admission is free but you could purchase a VIP ticket which got you seating under the large tent, out of the sun, along with select spirits, wine and Stella Artois Beer. You also received 4 Hand Made Premium Cigars – Arturo Fuente Cigar • JC Newman Cigar • PDR 1878 Oscura Robusto Cigar • Blanco NINE Toro Cigar along with a Cuban style lunch that included Yellow Rice, Platanos Maduros, 1905 Salad & Dressing & Authentic Cuban Bread & Butter.
As for me, I knew I would be walking around taking photos, meeting old friends and making new ones, so I opted out of the VIP ticket and appreciated the absolutely beautiful fall day in Ybor City.
I actually got in town earlier than I thought I would, but I wanted to make sure I had a parking space in the lot behind Centennial Park where the festival was being held. Good choice on my part as the lots filled up quickly once the morning drew on. Being there early also allotted me time to walk around during the set-up and greet the many vendors at the festival before the crowd filled the streets and park.
There were deals galore and throughout the day the attendance seemed to keep growing and enthusiasts were opening their wallets and purses to fill their humidors or get some treasured gifts for friends and family. You don’t get your cigar enthusiasts friend a tie for Christmas you get him or her cigars and that is what was transpiring at this years Cigar Heritage Festival.
A new attraction, I was told, at this years festival, was the mobile cigar lounges. They lined the back of the park area and afforded a place for folks to get out of the sun, smoke a cigar, relax in a comfy seat, and even watch some NFL games in a relaxing Air Conditioned environment. A nice addition for sure.
There were also apparel vendors and if you were in the market for it, maybe you could pick up a Polaris 3-wheeled Sling Shot to put under that tree this year.
Of course, a festival would not be a festival without food and drink, and there was plenty to be had – with food and beverage trucks lining the street serving up some of the best the local area has to offer. If you were able to get some of the amazing Paella being served up all day by Mr. Paella, you know what I am talking about!!
Now what about the music, it is a festival right? Well that was not a disappointment, as the highlight performance at midday was the Grammy Nominated Salsa orchestra – Orchestra Fuego! I tell you what, when you hear this group play you just want to get out there and dance all day.
I walked around the park for hours enjoying cigars and talking to fellow enthusiasts and every one was having a great time. Even the wild roosters, that seemed to be everywhere. Why is it that the two historic cigar cities in Florida – Ybor and Key West have roosters roaming free? I guess they must love cigars.
It certainly did not concern the crowd who poured out into the park to celebrate their lifestyle The aroma of sweet burning leaf filled the air of Ybor’s Centennial Park this beautiful December day.
Now that I have had the Ybor Cigar Heritage Festival Experience, I will be back again, you can count on it! Till the next time we meet, this is Boston Jimmie saying peace and love to all, have a great holiday season and a prosperous and safe 2022.