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Places & People

StogieFest 2018

March 23-25, 2018
Published April 9

Another year gone, and another STOGIEFEST!

This has been a very hard article for me to pen in 2018. For the past 2 years, I had attended the festival with stogiefest 2018 attendee goodiesmy good friend Gary ‘Doc’ Laden, creator of (and, honestly, the soul of) the Smooth Draws Radio Show. Frequent readers of the Cigar Weekly Magazine know that we did all we could to help spread the word. I was a regular guest on the show, and was also honored to be a frequent co-host.

Gary passed on the 26th of January, 2018, just one day before I was to see him and co-host what I think would have been episode 147 of the show. I was shattered by his passing. His wife Susan (who he affectionately called Wee Wee) messaged me on Thursday, and told me he was in intensive care. I broke down, and started praying. Yet God still chose that time to take him home.

In honor of his commitment and contributions to cigar life, it was decided to wrap up the show with a final episode at the festival he loved most. So, for one last time, we did a live remote from StogieFest in Jacksonville, FL. It was great to be with Chad ‘The Hangman’ Potier (the show’s producer and engineer) and Nick Syris (regular co-host and a colleague of ‘Doc’) for the memorial show. But that's enough background and commiseration for the moment. Thank you for allowing me to share that moment

Now on to StogieFest!

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A Look Back at the IPCPR 2017

IPCPR 2017 1July 20th, 2017

The 2017 International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Convention has come and gone. While it took place in Las Vegas like last year, there were significant differences – and these not all due to the fact that the venue had changed from the Sands Expo to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Once again, we covered all four days, as well as the seminars the day before the show. And we’re very glad we did. While we didn’t hit absolutely every vendor (and some of them we had really wanted to see), we got really good coverage.

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The Old Havana Cigar Bar in Trinidad and Tobago

Old Havana Cigar Bar 1October 13th, 2016

About two months ago, I was trying to organize a cigar get-together for a bunch of my fellow cigar loving friends, or what we call hanging out – a lime.

I called a friend with the hopes of getting together with him for a smoke, and he told me that he had heard of a new place opening – a cigar bar! I was immediately intrigued. The place is called Old Havana, and I was immediately impressed by it upon my first visit.

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The 10 Most Compelling People from Day 3 of the IPCPR 2017

Day 3 1July 13th, 2017

Before we get into the Top 10, there is one person who stands above all the rest - Victoria McKee Jaworski from General Cigar. You know that person who makes you feel like a close friend (but that you see only once a year), that offers you coffee (and even knows how you take it) and asks about your children (then remembers their names)? That's her. She had the company’s booth running as smoothly as clockwork, and made customers feel right at home. Plus she promoted their new products – Macanudo Black & White, Hoya de Amistad Silver, CAO Amazonia Anaconda and Partagas 1845.

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A Woman’s Perspective on the World of Cigars

AWPOTWOCOctober 6th, 2016

I began smoking cigars almost three years ago. I'm sure the way in which I got started isn't uncommon. I was driving home, and wanted to relax after a particularly long and exhausting day at work. Then, I saw something. It was sign that said ‘Cigar Lounge’. Something just clicked in me. I pulled in.

I walked into the lounge, my heels clacking on the dark wood floor and my laptop in hand, quietly sat down, and ordered a coffee. But I’m an adrenaline junkie. So I looked at the humidor. It was scary and exciting all at once. I ventured in, and immediately fell in love. The humidity in the humidor made my curls three inches bigger, but I took my time. After forty minutes, I had picked my cigar.

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Novel Pairings from the IPCPR 2017, Day 2

Day 2 10July 12th, 2017

1. El Chapo and Sausage. Jeremy Jack Cigars went out on a limb with some unique looks. Their El Chapo is in a three-count box, and is on the lam. The Salchichas, or ‘sausages’, is a good link.

2. Oscar and Island Jim. Yes, Island Jim really looks like his cigar band, and he even has a BBQ pineapple snack sausage with a cigar-like package.

3. Sakasquatch and ‘Everyday’. Steve Saka introduced Todos Los Dias, and apologizes for his poor Spanish translation, but promises happy smokers if they try the stick. He also has a new mascot – the cigar-smoking big-foot Sakasquatch.

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2016 IPCPR Wrap-Up

IMG 54791The 2016 IPCPR in Las Vegas was probably the most spectacular yet. Vendors and retailers were literally everywhere. It was a great thing that we decided to cover all four days, or we would have missed several interviews with more popular vendors on the floor.

The most encouraging aspect of the show was the overwhelming response of the vendors and retailers to the FDA information seminars. There was standing room only, and some people had to wait outside because the room was at fire marshal capacity.

As for the FDA, the language of its new guidelines, which force manufacturers to get approval for anything released after Feb. 15, 2007, is so vague that a lot of the industry is concerned about what exactly the guidelines mean. At best, it’s the FDA trying to get deeper into the pockets of the industry. At worst, it’s an aggressive attempt to destroy the industry as we know it.

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The Top 10 Things We Learned on Day 1 at the IPCPR 2017

IPCPR 2017 Top 10 1July 11th, 2017

1. The former mayor of NYC, Rudy Giuliani, is a bad-ass. In light of the recent FDA regulations, his keynote speech was exactly what the cigar industry needed to hear from a politician. “President Trump realizes regulations are killing businesses,” he said. “Let businesses operate like businesses instead of government-regulated organizations.”

2. The IPCPR knows how to party. ‘Light up the Night’ with General Cigar was the best ever, with food, drinks, cigars, drinks, T-shirt screening, cigars, drinks and cigars. And Mombacho parties – enough said about that.

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Day Two - IPCPR Top 10

More 'Top 10' impressions, courtesy of Cigar Weekly's 'on-the-floor' Jeff Slatton (jefslat), from the second day of the (2016) International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers 84th Annual Convention & Trade Show. Have a look!

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Cigar Magic

Cigar Magic 1March 23rd, 2017

It's been my experience that cigar people are some of the nicest I've ever met, and that ‘cigar magic’ happens whenever they come together to enjoy ‘the leaf’ with one another.

A fairly short time ago, I once again saw this truth in action. A friend of mine is a blender and brand owner. Her name is Paula Hernandez, and she owns Paula Cigars. Over several months and visits at Cigar and Tobacco (a shop & lounge in Berlin, Connecticut), I’ve also became friends with Ray, the shop owner, and some of his patrons.

Until last year, I hadn't known Paula or Ray. But over the course of 2016, one cigar at a time, our relationships formed and grew. And now, as with so many other ‘brothers & sisters of the leaf’ I’ve met, Paula and Ray seem like old friends.

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Day One - IPCPR Top 10

Cigar Weekly's own Jeff Slatton (jefslat) offers up his 'Top 10' impressions from the first day of the (2016) International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers 84th Annual Convention & Trade Show. Savor the moment!

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