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DR Cigar Fest--The Wrapup

The first ProCigar Festival is in the books, and it went pretty well. About 120 people had a chance to spend time with cigarmakers in their factories and fields, they smoked up a storm and they got a nice taste of Dominican culture. A few even did the extended stay and spent this weekend in La Romana, home to Tabacalera de Garcia, and played in a golf tournament. I wish I could have joined them, but I had to return home.

There were cigars passed out at all of the dinners and lunches, at the factory and field tours and at most of the activities, plus there was an attractive sampler box that everyone got when they arrived. I have mine right here, and I thought I’d give you a little look inside.

The festival has been a long time coming, and I’m happy that it finally happened. Hopefully it will become an annual event, just like the Habanos Festival held in Cuba.

The Habanos festival is much larger than the ProCigar Festival. I believe more than 1,000 people attended the gala dinner completing the Habanos Festival, while the ProCigar Festival had little more than 100 in attendance. But Cuba has been doing this for a decade. Give the Dominicans time to get themselves up to speed on throwing this type of party, and—with a little more promotion—the ProCigar Festival will only get bigger. I’m told Santiago will have another hotel in a few months, which will add needed tourist space to the city. Right now, they really couldn’t handle 1,000 guests.

The comparisons between the festivals seemed to be partisan. One Dominican I spoke to said the ProCigar Festival was much better organized and far superior to the Habanos Festival. I asked the same question to a Cuban who had attended both, and she said the Habanos Festival was head and shoulders above the ProCigar Festival.

In the end, I believe there is certainly room for both. If you love cigars, how can you not love spending time in one of the countries where cigars are made, walk through a tobacco field, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a cigarmaker and immerse yourself in the culture of the land?
Robert Funk California March 11, 2008 10:16pm ET
David, In all your reporting, how come no mention of the Fuentes and OpusX?
DAVE Savona New York March 12, 2008 9:39am ET
Valid question, Robert. While Fuente is one of the largest producers of cigars in the Dominican Republic, the company is no longer a part of ProCigar. They were a founding member, but they left ProCigar many years ago. Since they are not part of ProCigar, they weren't part of the festival. The member companies in ProCigar are General Cigar, Tabacalera de Garcia (owned by Altadis U.S.A.), Matasa, Tabadom (which includes Cigars Davidoff), La Aurora and Juan Clemente.On a side note, I wanted to say hello to the Fuentes while I was in town, but it just didn't work out this time, as Carlos Fuente Jr. was travelling back to the states at about the time I came in. I did manage to spend some time briefly with Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana, who also isn't part of ProCigar.
Fausto Abreu New York, NY March 13, 2008 2:31pm ET
Dave,I greatly enjoy your stories and reports from DR, being Dominican and also a recent cigar enthusiast I am very proud to see so much coverage of my native homeland even though I left it when I was one year old.Does the Fuente family ever have a tour of their tobacco fields/farm? I know they have charity events across the U.S.A thru their Cigar Family affiliation, however, I am not sure if they have any events in Santiago, DR.I am quite disappointed that they are not a part of the ProCigar festival since they are one of the leading cigar producers and well-known in the cigar industry. The ProCigar festival in DR in order to be as successful as the Habano festival held in Cuba needs the participation of great cigar families such as the Fuentes, and great cigar producers such as Litto Gomez.Is there a specific reason why not all the Cigar families and leading cigar producers located in DR did not unite to make it a more successful ProCigar festival event? I know it's the first DR ProCigar festival, and I may be getting too ahead of myself.Cheers,-Fausto Enrique
Christian Aliperti NY March 14, 2008 9:49am ET
Too bad. Those are two of my favorite cigar companies and they could to a lot in promoting and continuing this festival.

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