Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 08 December 2012

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rhleadpicThis week, we look a cigar-loving pop star, say a sad farewell to a cigar legend, look at some new places to hang out and a cigar festival we’re sorry we missed, but there’s always next year!






R.I.P. Armando Garcia



While the most prized premium cigars are rolled by hand, there are many more manufactured by machines, and no one knew more about those machines that Armando Garcia, who passed away in his sleep on November 28.

Garcia had spent the last ten years of his life at the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. in Tampa, keeping the factory’s sometimes-cranky machines working. The older machines that crank out the higher-quality machine-made cigars use a tobacco mix made from what’s left over after making premium cigars, wrapped in real tobacco leaves. Garcia was a genius at keeping these vintage machines going.

Garcia got his start working on cigar machines in Puerto Rico back in the 1940s and spent several years at Havatampa Inc. before joining J.C. Newman.

J.C. Newman president Eric M. Newman said of Garcia, “Armando's whole life was cigars. Armando was still regarded as the ‘Master Mechanic to the World.' As recently as a month ago he was still fielding calls from cigar manufacturers from all over the world searching solutions whenever they had a problem with their cigar machines. Armando will truly be missed by the cigar industry.”

First Annual Tampa Cigar Festival Draws 2,000



Cigar lovers in the Tampa, Florida area have a new event to look forward to each year, just in time for the holiday season. The First Annual Tampa Cigar Festival brought a diverse crowd to Cotanchobee Fort Brooks Park on December 1 for an afternoon of music and smokes in the Florida sunshine.

Smokers could choose from a wide variety of cigars on sale from labels like Romeo y Juliet, Thompson & Co. and Arturo Fuente. On hand to greet them was cigar scion Arturo Fuente, whose father founded the cigar company bearing their name 100 years ago. He commented, “This is a really great way to celebrate our cigar heritage. The cigar business is on the rebound. More people are smoking.”

Fuente’s wife Vienna Fuente is the brains behind the event, and she said she wanted it to honor “the business that made Tampa.” She added, “We have food, a billiards tent, dominoes, music and, of course, cigars.”

Another cigar honcho on hand was Eric Newman, president of the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, who looked back on the history of cigars in Tampa. “Eighty, 90, 100 years ago, the only jobs in Tampa were with the cigar industry. People who have been here for three or four generations have family who were in the industry.”

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