Tampa’s cigar industry and the city’s moniker as the "Cigar Capital of the World" is largely pinned to Vicente Martinez-Ybor, who arrived in Tampa in 1885 at the age of 67, bringing the industry to the region and founding what is known today as Ybor City.
Tampa experienced exponential growth and development in the 19th century under his leadership and as a result of the cigar industry which welcomed immigrants from Cuba, Spain, Italy, and other countries.
In honor of his legacy, the Ybor City Museum Society and the Ybor City Museum State Park will host a celebration of Vicente Martinez-Ybor’s 200th birthday from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 7) in the museum garden, located at 1818 E 9th Ave.
The celebration continues the Ybor City Museum Society’s mission to preserve, promote and celebrate the unique cultural heritage of Ybor City and support the Ybor City Museum State Park. It includes a dedication and special comments from Martinez-Ybor’s great grandson, Rafael Martinez-Ybor and other noted speakers such as The Honorable E.J. Salcines, and officials from Florida State Parks and Ybor City Museum Society.
Guest will enjoy light refreshments, live music by the HCC Ybor Campus Alumni Jazz Band, presentations from several Ybor City organizations such as the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, Ybor Merchant’s Association, Ybor City Development Corporation and other community participants, domino games and instruction, a Bolita-style game of chance with prizes, a celebratory cutting of the birthday cake and more.
In commemoration of Martinez-Ybor’s birthday, there will be free admission to the Ybor City Museum State Park from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday (Sept 7). The park includes the Museum in the historic Ferlita Bakery, a re-created cigar-workers "casita" or home, and the lush garden.