Under a full moon, with the sweet aroma of cigar smoke swirling around the large outdoor terrace of the Pueblo Viejo Hotel, the Third Nicaragua Tobacco Festival kicked off last night in the country's capital of Managua. With more than 250 people in attendance, the welcome dinner featured a cocktail reception highlighted by Nicaragua's Flor de Caña rum, followed by a Caribbean-style dinner.
The president of the Nicaraguan Tobacco Association, Nestor Andrés Plasencia, greeted the crowd, telling them that the festival was a chance "to show the people of the world the success of the Nicaraguan cigar industry...and give everyone a chance to enjoy the best cigars in the world." He said that the most recent statistics from 2012 show that Nicaragua now accounts for more than a third of the premium cigars sold in the United States. "And, this is just the beginning," Plasencia said. "We are still learning about the land and the climate."
The guests at the welcome dinner included the mayor of Estelí as well as representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan Tobacco Association includes a number of well-known producers of brands that are popular in the U.S.: Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, Oliva Cigar Co., My Father Cigars, Padrón, Plasencia and A.J. Fernandez. Other association members include Scandanavian Tobacco Group Esteli, NACSA, Tabacos de Nicaragua, PENSA, Tabacalera Tavicusa S.A., Tabacalera San Rafael, Procenicsa and A.S.P Nicaragua S.A.
The festival will shift activities Thursday and Friday to the town of Estelí, which is the primary cigar-producing city in Nicaragua. The attendees, who include people from the cigar industry, consumers from all over the world and Nicaragua, will be given tours of local tobacco plantations and factory tours.