NICARAGUAN CIGAR FESTIVAL
JANUARY 15TH - 18TH, 2014
MANAGUA, ESTELI, NICARAGUA
For as long as I can remember, the Cuban Cigar Festival has been a major international event - attended by many cigar lovers throughout the world, as well as some celebrities who have a passion for premium cigars. Each year, special editions, limited editions, and line extensions are released and celebrated during the Cuban Festival, as well as charity money raised. Even though I never attended one, certainly seems like a beautiful function.
At some point, I'd say 5 or 6 years ago, I was living in Nicaragua and heard about the Dominican Cigar Festival. While I missed the first year, I kept hearing great things about the it from my cigar geek friends. So, I believe it was year two or three, that I finally attended - along with Fat Boy Jessi "Victims" Flores from Subculture Studios in Nicaragua, Saka, and some other DE guys. I attended a few more times, sometimes with the fellas and sometimes with my wife, but we always had a great time. I truly love the Dominican Cigar Festival because it certainly is festive. You just feel like you are there for a really big party, great food, great hosts, great entertainment, great cigars, and all the other cool factory stuff. Even the tours that you can choose to attend, which are not cigar related, are awesome. We went snorkeling one year and had a great time with Chinook Cellars and Xikar on our boat, along with many final consumers.
So, hear we are in Nicaragua somewhere in between all this theatrics, at a meeting with the Cigar Guilders Association, which consists of approximately 11 cigar manufacturers in Nicaragua, and the idea gets brought up - "Let's hold our very own Nicaraguan Cigar Festival" ... well, needless to say, the entire group was up for the idea, and in Year One, Drew Estate was basically assigned with the task of putting the show together.
While we didn't have a big budget, or a lot of time to prepare for the festival, we did an admirable job. We had about 100 attendees or so, some press, and even some cigar manufacturers from other countries such as the DR.
The festival was different than the festivals that I have attended in the DR in many ways. First, it was not nearly as festive. Instead, it was kind of mystic, with many deep rooted and historic things going on. For those who attended, you know what I'm talking about. In some ways, each day revealed some piece of Nicaraguan history, whether cigar history or not, the entire country was activated in some strange and mystical way. The experience was unusual, kind of dark, kind of tribal, an unquestionably unforgettable.
During the Nica festival, there was a lot of early blogging going on from some of the pioneers in the biz, as well as some of the new guys. In regard to New media, we were smack dab in the beginning of the new media movement that we all now love and cherish.
Some retailers attended and stayed at the house of Orlando Padron, Drew Estate, Placensia, and Joya de Nicaragua. If you are capable of finding video coverage and photos, I would take a peak at it. Now remember, I''m not talking about the second Nicaraguan Cigar Festival. The second Nica Fest was a total disaster from the standpoint of logistics, a total mess, and something that I would hardly call a festival. Maybe better to call it a dark moment in cigar history. On the other hand, there are memories that will stay with me forever, including us driving 5 hours to Jalapa on a bus that almost crashed 50 feet above a levine to certain death. I was staring into the eyes of Glynn and Jill Loope, of the CRA as we made that historic crawl with dudes standing on this piece of shit bridge, guiding us with only once inch to the right and left of the wheels of this huge bus. While the lunch in the tobacco barn was definitely cool, it wasn't worth the risk. I was too scared to take the bus home, and drove back in Jessi's car. hahahahahah ...
Anyway, the Nicaraguan Cigar Festival is attended by the following factories: (if I miss anyone, its not intentional, trust me. I am doing this freestyle).
* Joya de Nicaragua
* Rocky Patel (RP does have a small, but nice factory in Nica)
* Oliva (as in Oliva V, Nub, etc)
* AJ Fernandez
* Tobaccos Augustin (The Fidel Olivas family, not Oliva V)
* My Father (Pepin Garcia). Pete Johnson always attends also ..!
* Drew Estate Tobacco Company
* any others please excuse me.
This year, we are holding the Nicaraguan Cigar Festival from January 15th thru January 18th. My suggestion is that it is best to arrive in Managua on January 15th, so you can attend the opening night festivities and settle into Nicaragua the right way. I happen to love Managua, and there is plenty to do, especially with all these cigar people hanging around.
Wednesday, JANUARY 15TH:
- 8AM to 11PM there will be buses taking guests to their hotels in Managua, so you don't need to get into a taxi.
- 7PM will be the grand opening of the Festival at the Pueblo Viejo restaurant in Managua. There will be bus service for this as well, of course. The bus service is pretty good.
- 9PM will be the official dinner, always attended by high ups in the Nica government. Last time, the Vice Prez was there with his wife.
- 11PM Live Entertainment. No, not strippers. This is classy.
- 1AM the buses will take peeps back to the hotels.
Thursday, JANUARY 16TH:
- 7AM breakfast at your hotel.
- 8.30AM - 11.30AM the buses are going to take everyone from Managua to Esteli and get them checked into their hotels.
- 12 Noon to 2PM will be the lunch at the Hotel HEXX, which is located in the new commercial mall in Esteli. This place is bad ass.
- 2PM to 6PM will be the Cigar Tours in each of the different factories.
- 6PM the buses will take people back to their hotels.
- 7.30PM will be "The Popular Party" right in the middle of Central Park of Esteli. This will include dinner, apps, drinks, cigars, and music. This is one of the best things because the entire city of Esteli will be mixed in with the guests and everyone is going f****** nuts. Its a true moment of pride for the city and you will be right in the middle of it. This was my favorite part of the last Nicaraguan Cigar Festival. We didnt have this function in the first one.
Friday, JANUARY 17TH:
- 7AM breakfast.
- 9AM tobacco farm tour in Esteli, not Jalapa thanks G.
- 12 Noon Lunch at Quinta Santa Lucia.
- 2PM Tourism Fair at Centro Recreativo right in front of Central Park Esteli. In all fairness, I enjoyed this very much last time as well. This is kind of bad ass.
- 5.30PM the buses take peeps back to the hotels.
- 7.30PM The OFFICIAL LAST DINNER, including speeches, music, shows, and more.
- 1.30AM the buses take the peeps back to their hotels.
Saturday, JANUARY 18TH:
- 7am breakfast.
- 9am the buses take everyone back to Managua.
Well, there are more things that I will get added to the agenda, such as the Charity Function, which we have done each year. Any other ideas, please drop them here or on my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my FB (Jonathan DrewTwo), but please not on my inbox here or anywhere else cause I get overloaded.
Remember, this is not the Cuban or DR Cigar Festival. The Nica Fest is something that is bizarre, but beautiful in its own way. They are historic for all their own reasons, and definitely worth attending if you are a Fed Head.
NOTE - the Website is only in Spanish right now, but they are going to translate it soon. Go and look at it, and learn some Spanglish anyway.
I may head down there for this JD. If I do, I will hit you up. I will most likely come in a few days early to spend some time with a friend of mine down there.
Looks awesome! A must for any cigar aficionado!
DIZZLE! Thanks for sharing the info on this Brotha! sounds like an awesome event! I might have to get this one on the schedule
Dude...if you get to go, that would be awesome! I was actually going to call you to get some advice on the travel being it will be my first time.
Feel free to ask questions. I've been, Robby has been, Surgeon has been...can probably give you the 411!
As long as there is a Starwood hotel there, then I got enough points on AA and Starwood to get us there :)
Pretty sure you won't find any Starwoods in Nica. Hilton, though.
Well, looks like I am going out of pocket then.
That ride to Jalapa was insane and looooooong but I still had a blast. Already got my tickets and wired the funds, see you guys in Managua in January!