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Cigar City celebration

Published Sep. 10, 2005

The fifth annual Tampa Cigar Heritage Festival celebrates the cigar and Tampa's history as Cigar City.

A century ago, 80 percent of the city's manufacturing output was tobacco products, and most of that was cigars made in Ybor City. Cigars have continued to be a strong part of Ybor's heritage.

The festival includes dozens of cigar manufacturers and retailers, including Altadis USA, JC Newman (owners of the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar at Tropicana Field) and Arturo Fuente. Cigar paraphernalia vendors and exhibitors also will be there.

For entertainment, Rare Earth, known for the '70s hit Get Ready, will perform live. Children's activities include face painting and a juggler.

Dave Zeplowitz, known as "Cigar Dave," host of the nationally syndicated radio show Smoke This, will broadcast live from the festival from noon to 2 p.m. Fifteen minutes into the broadcast, he will invite attendees to light up their cigars in a ritual done every week by many of his listeners.

Both vintage and new Harley Davidson motorcycles will be on display along with the cigar festivities. The event is free.

The first Tampa Cigar Heritage Festival in 1997 brought in only a few hundred people, but this year organizers believe about 15,000 will show up, which means a much larger street closure, says Clear Channel Radio promotions director Debbi McCarthy.