Cigar fanatics get a chance to try some of Cuba’s finest at Cigar Fest

Cuba

The 17th annual Cigar Festival in Cuba is a dream for cigar lovers. In preparation for the annual festival, factories including The Real Habanos Factory work to produce some of the best tobacco in the world.
CCTV’s Michelle Begue filed this report from Havana, Cuba.

Cigar fanatics get a chance to try some of Cuba's finest at Cigar Fest

Cigar fanatics get a chance to try some of Cuba's finest at Cigar Fest

The 17th annual Cigar Festival in Cuba is a dream for cigar lovers. In preparation for the annual festival, factories including The Real Habanos Factory work to produce some of the best tobacco in the world. CCTV's Michelle Begue filed this report from Havana, Cuba.

For the past two decades, Odaly has been reading to cigar workers three times a day, 30 minutes at a time. It is a job she carries out with pride.

“We feel we are doing a good and important job of helping them relax when they most need it,” Factory Reader Odaly said. “We should always continue reading as it is a tradition in Cuba that we have worked hard to maintain.”

A tradition that started more than 150 years ago, and one Cuba hopes will someday be recognized as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by the United Nations.

An inside look into a Cuba’s rich culture is one reason thousands come to the annual Cuban Cigar Festival.

Participants are visiting some of the most emblematic cigar factories in Havana.

The Real Habanos Factory, La Corona, is the headquarters of the Romeo and Juliet Brand, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary.

This is the largest cigar factory in Cuba and 80 percent of its 650 workers are women.”

It is an eight-hour day for these cigar rollers, who on average make 150 cigars a day.

Cigar roller Ines Drake said she has been doing rolling cigars for 15 years and the key is to break the monotony through camaraderie.

“We talk while working, we laugh, tell stories, and that is how we pass time. Before we know it, the morning has passed. That is why we work hard to advance the most work in the morning,” Drake said.

Attendees of the festival not only get a close-up look at Cuba’s famous cigars in the making, but also a bit of education.

One session is all about what Cubans call the “Perfect smoke” and then there is the “Longest Ash Competition,” the festival’s newest event.

“This Cigar has had a long trajectory. That is why we give 45 minutes to smoke it. You have to feel it, you have to enjoy it, you have to live it,” Louisa Castellanos, Habanos Event Specialist said.

Anyone who thinks they have what it takes not to drop the ash while they smoke, can participate. With a little rum in hand, women and men from all over the world, puff away.

“You must continuously smoke, so it won’t go out, although a good cigar never goes out. If it is a bad cigar it will. But you must enjoy it as well.” Juan Chao, “Longest Ash Competition” participant said.