Monday, June 29, 2009

Famous Cigar Expo '09 Wrap-up

In spite of the rain which pre-empted the boxing match that was scheduled for Friday night's VIP ticket holder festivities, Famous Smoke Shop's Cigar Expo 2009 got off to a great start and never looked back until the lights were finally shut-off at 9:00 PM on Saturday.

At around 4:00 PM Friday afternoon, Miami Cigars set-up shop in the Famous Smoke Shop Retail store where customers and guests alike could enjoy a cold bottle of Presidente Beer and choose from the company's latest selections, including the new Nestor Miranda Special Selection Ruky, La Aurora Barrel Aged, 1495, plus Cubao cigars from E/O brands, whom they now also distribute. Miami Cigars execs, Rene Castañeda and Jose Blanco were in-store to host the event and greet guests.

By six P.M. most of the vendors had arrived, among who included Nick Perdomo, Avo Uvezian, Jorge Padron, Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars (who brought his son Alec to help out), David Blanco of Los Blancos Cigars, Joe Chiusano of Cusano Cigars, Dylan Austin of Camacho Cigars, Nestor Plasencia, Abraham Shafir of Tamboril, Michael Cellucci of Drew Estate, Pete Johnson (Tatuaje), George Rico of Gran Habano, Gene Emond of Graycliff Cigars, Eddie Ortega of E/O brands, Nimish Desai of Rocky Patel Cigars, Keith Sparacio, Seanna Tobin and Micheal Giannini, of General Cigar, Rich Perelman of CigarCyclopedia.com, Gene Arganese, Abe Flores (Flor De Gonzalez), Tim Swail of Humidipak, Victor Vitale (The Cigar Agency), and Heather Phillips of Heavenly Cigars.

Although the exhibition boxing didn't happen due to safety reasons (the mat was too wet from the rain earlier), the lingerie show by Bare Elegance in Bethlehem, PA went off without a hitch.

On Saturday the weather was perfect: mostly sunny, warm and breezy. Don Jose Pepin Garcia came with a small posse which included his lovely daughter Janny. Also in attendance were Jon Huber and Paul Spence of CAO Cigars who brought the custom, "Lady Liberty" bike made by Sucker Punch Sally's, Brenda Doyle of XiKAR, Inc., Manuel Quesada of Fonseca, Casa Magna, et. al., Ernesto Perez Carrillo and his son Ernesto Jr., and Brad Mayo of Jameson Cigars. Kinky Friedman and "Little Jewford" of Kinky Friedman Cigars made their debut, as did Roberto Alonso of Flor de Gonzalez (who brought their own roller), while Altadis U.S.A. brought back former Playboy Playmate, Shannon James, to sign photos. Other vendors included Oliva Cigars, Kristoff Cigars, Vector lighters, Carlos Toraño cigars, John Hay Cigars, and Avalon Cigars.

My apologies to those I may have unintentionally omitted, along with a HUGE thank you to ALL the vendors who took time out from their busy pre-IPCPR show schedules to attend.

Overall, the guests were delighted with the event, many of whom had attended in previous years, citing that this was the best Ciga Expo yet. The food, provided by Gennaro's Restaurant in Easton, PA was delicious and served in a timely manner, while several micro breweries poured their own special beers. Music was provided by DJ Frank Pulli, plus a live band, "Tower Suite," who were kind enough to let Nick Perdomo (drums), Abe Flores (bass), and myself (keys) the chance to jam on a couple of tunes. Drew Estate Cigars sponsored a casino tent where guests could play poker, blackjack, roulette, etc. and win chips to trade-in for Drew Estate cigars.

Lots of trips to the Dominican Republic and Honduras were given away, including a trip to Nick Perdomo's factory in Esteli, where the winners will also get to stay in his home. Dozens of other raffle prizes were given away courtesy of practically every manufacturer who showed-up. There was also a box provided for cigar donations to the troops which, thankfully, looked pretty well stocked.

Special thanks to Brian Hewitt and Walt White of StogieReview.com who were among some of the cigar community reporters in attendance. They've recorded a video with a candid wrap-up of Cigar Expo in which "yours truly" briefly appears slightly punch-drunk from too much sun, too many cigars, and too little sleep.

I've also got some video from the event that I'll be editing over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for that. In the meantime, you can see all the great photos taken by Famous Smoke Shop's own Joe Ledva and Bill Miller.

If you were at the Cigar Expo and want to leave a comment, please do.

So, until next year's Cigar Expo, adios amigos!

~ Gary Korb

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