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Cigar fans fired up for annual Ybor heritage event

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Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 01:09 AM

Stogies and live music will help celebrate the history and heritage of the Latin district.

The 14th annual Heritage and Cigar Festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ybor Square and the surrounding area, with proceeds benefiting the Ybor City Museum Society.

The family-friendly event will include national and local cigar vendors, live cigar rolling, craft beer, food trucks hawking cultural favorites and a kids zone with games and activities.

There will be a live broadcast of the Cigar City Radio Show and the annual collection of "Cigars for Soldiers" and live entertainment from The Swingin' Mooks, Acho Brother, the Jack Jasper Band and DJ Blenda.

The Tampa Bay Rays Street Team will make an appearance, the Tampa Bay Bucs' "Bucsparilla" float will be on hand along with Bucs cheerleaders and the Tampa Bay Lightning will provide some street hockey at the festival.

In honor of Arturo Fuente Cigars' 100th anniversary, tours of historic Ybor City buildings will be offered.

The cigar industry will be well represented. Visitors will be able to purchase stogies and meet representatives from companies including J.C. Newman Cigar Company, Gurkha Cigars with Randy Veers, San Lotano with Jeff Groover, Alec Bradley Cigars with Kevin Casey, Rocky Patel Cigars with Mark Rudicille and Patrick Vivalo, Pride Cigars & Ares Contreras, Giacomo Cigars with Dr. Jack Guggino and more.

Visitors also will be able to catch a free tram between the festival and the Ybor City Museum State Park to check out its latest exhibit, "Béisbol: Tampa's Love of the Game."

The festival is the museum society's largest fundraiser. The museum, at 1818 E. Ninth Ave., was established in 1977 in the refurbished Ferlita Bakery building, which dates to 1923. The museum complex, which is a state park, includes the adjacent garden and fountain, a trio of cigar workers' houses and the museum store.

Last year, about 3,500 people attended the cigar and heritage festival, said Chantal Ruilova Hevia, museum society president. Organizers are hoping for twice that amount.

"We've added more events to appeal to an even wider array of people," Hevia. "If you're a cigar lover, it's a haven for cigars, but there's a lot happening that makes it very family friendly. We want to keep growing this event."

14TH ANNUAL YBOR CITY HERITAGE AND CIGAR FESTIVAL

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ybor Square, 1911 N. 13th St., and surrounding areas; two entry gates on 9th Avenue at both 13th Street and Avenida República de Cuba (14th Street).

Tickets: $5 in advance; $10 at the gate; VIP are $60 in advance/$80 at the gate; celebrateybor.com or by calling (813) 247-1434


ccabrera@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7656

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