This past Friday I attended my very first CigarFest. This year was the 10th Anniversary of this event which is held by Cigars International. I have heard good & bad about this event & the bad all seemed centered around how crowded it was at the event. This year the format changed as they split the event into two days. Each day offered three levels of participation. General Admission tickets ($125) got you in the door at 2:30 until closing which was 6:00. V.I.H. (Very Important Herfer) tickets ($165) got you in the door at 12:30. Cigarnut tickets gave you the ultimate experience starting with breakfast at 10:30 & special raffles. These tickets were sold through CBid only although you could get them with Quick Buy for $250. In addition to the ticket you could purchase a shirt and or a cap which entitled you to extra freebies as you walked in to the event. My only complaint was the my shirt was baby puke green & I’ll likely never wear it again because the color is downright repugnant.
So three buddies & I arrived at about 11:30 or so & made our way up to the doors, or should I say the line to the doors which was about 200 feet long by the time we got there. At 12:30 the line moved quickly & in no time we were handed a nice duffle bag & our extra goodies along with the great coupon book that entitled you to a cigar from each manufacturer at the event. We began to meander our way around the show floor & unlike Big Smoke events there were no bottle necks & no pushing or shoving. Everything went at a calmer pace with no stress & no feeling like you were falling behind in a race to see who could get all the cigars first.
In addition to the cigars there were a few different spirits available for sampling as well as a plethora of micro brews. There were also several cash bars set up throughout the show floor serving very reasonably priced mixed drinks & wines. There was a band playing in the dining/concert tent where lunch was served. You got your fill of pulled pork, brisket, sausage & all the fixins while listening to live music. Hot shaves & massages were offered for tips just outside the dining tent & I took advantage of the opportunity & got a great shave by Nic, the owner of Modern Male in PA. As an aside, they have a cigar night at the barbershop every first Wed. of the month & I’m going to try to work that into my schedule very soon!
Several Cigarlebrities were on hand such as Jonathan Drew, Ernesto Carrillo, Nick Perdomo, A.J. Fernandez, Jesus Fuego, Eddie Ortega, Sam Leccia, Pete Johnson, Janine Garcia & Edgar Hoill to name a few. Although the bustling crowd of cigar lovers did not permit extended conversation, I’m sure they appreciated the thoughtful comments & hand shakes from all their fans.
Of course there were raffle tickets sold & numbers were pulled throughout the day. You also got special raffle tickets when you bought various sampler packs which culminated in the ruffling of a 5 Vegas Jeep Wrangler. They gave away a lot of outstanding items throughout the day.
I must say that CigarFest was a blast. I encountered no overcrowding even though the event was heavily attended. I believe this is a direct result of the two day format. When all was said & done, I took away a small humidor, a robusto sized travel humidor, a cutter, a lighter & approximately 90 cigars. The bounty was well worth the $215 I paid for my V.I.H. ticket & shirt. There is no doubt that although this was my first it will certainly not be my last CigarFest! My hats off to Cigars International for putting together a great event!