I was fortunate enough to attend the 2012 edition of the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival in Boulder Colorado on August 25th. There were lots of booths to visit, people to talk to and plenty of cigars and liquor. I really enjoyed the festival and I thought I’d share some of the highlights for anyone thinking of attending next year.
The festival didn’t start until 1:00 pm so my friend and I spent the morning touring the Miller Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado. I’d never seen how beer was made and found the process quite interesting. The best part was the sampling bar at the end of the tour. The beer was fresh and cold. It’s definitely worth the trip.
We got to the festival about opening time and had to wait in a very long line to get in the main entrance. Unbeknownst to me there are three entrances, one in front and two behind the hotel. The other two entrances had much shorter lines. At the entrance you get the mystery bag, tasting glass and drink coupons. I’d say they had a good turn out with well over a thousand people in attendance. The festival was held in a large courtyard at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel. Overall it was a nice place for the event and I found the staff courteous and helpful.
Included with your ticket is an all you can eat buffet that was open for most of the event. Burgers, Brats and BBQ Pork sandwiches were served along with a couple of salads. What I tried was very good and the freshly baked cookies were great. They also had soda pop and water available at several places throughout the courtyard.
So what’s in the mystery bag? That was my biggest question and caused the most hesitation when I was deciding to spend the money to go. Was it going to be worth it? Inside the bag were about 25 hand made cigars and a couple of packages of machine made cigars. The cigars consisted of several fairly new releases such as the Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon, C & C LRMD and the Gurhka Seduction, a couple of Smoker Friendly brands, a couple of cigars that were new to me, Dona Flor and Estilo Cubano, and the rest were cigars you probably already know and have tried such as the Camacho Legendario, La Aroma De Cuba and the Oliva Serie O. Overall it was a good mix and was worth the entrance fee. Some of the other stuff in the bag included a cigar cutter, a nice soft flame lighter, some small promotional items from the vendors and a condom. Yes a condom. I guess that falls into the lifestyle category.
There were about seventy vendor booths set up with maybe two thirds being cigar vendors. The rest of the booths held a wide assortment of beer and liquor vendors, CRA, Tommy Bahama, several artists, Gunsmoke Guns and others. One thing I’d like to note, do not expect to get free cigar samples from the cigar vendors. I witnessed several people asking. That’s why they gave you a bag with the cigars when you entered. Personally I like getting the cigars all at once and not having to visit each booth to get a cigar. The vendors have boxes available for purchase. Expect to pay MSRP. The value you get from buying directly from the vendor comes from no sales or tobacco taxes and they will throw in extra cigars and/or swag.
I met several cigar celebrities during the event including, Nimish Desai, Rocky Patel’s cousin and Jonathan Drew. Drew Estate hosted an after festival party at a local bar. He gave out a nice five pack of cigars and a hat. The party got crowded pretty fast so if you want a place to sit or even stand you need to get there early. Definitely something you don’t want to miss.
I met Glen Case at the Kristoff Cigars booth. He’s a fun guy to talk to and is willing to spend a few minutes with you. The guys here at Straight Up Cigars loved his Vengeance cigar which was discontinued. I told Glen how we loved that cigar and that we were sad to see it go. He said it was his favorite too and thus decided to rebrand the cigar as the GC Signature under the Kristoff brand. I purchased his last box and had him sign it. Thank you Glen for taking the time to talk with me and for signing the box. I will enjoy those cigars!
Lastly I met Randy White of the Dallas Cowboys. Randy was autographing pictures and promoting his crewing tobacco. I was actually surprised to see him there. I’m a huge fan of the Cowboys and getting my first autograph of a Cowboy’s legend was really special. Randy later auctioned off an autographed football helmet for charity. He’s a good guy.
Okay there’s got to be something I didn’t like about the festival and there was. The first was a lack of shade in the seating area. The hotel set up a bunch of tables and chairs on the tennis courts. It provided a lot of places to sit, smoke cigars and eat but the area was, for most of the day, in the heat of the sun. Most of the tables remained unused until late in the afternoon when the area finally got some shade. This caused most of the 1,000 plus attendees to congregate around the vendor area where the shade was. This created congestion and bottlenecks. It made it hard to actually visit some of the vendors and walk through those areas.
Garbage was also a big problem. There were too few garbage cans and as far as I could tell no one empting the cans. In the area with the tables, one table ended up as the impromptu garbage dump and was covered with a mountain of trays and food from the buffet. Not the best thing to have to sit by and see while trying to enjoy a cigar.
Speaking of cigars, there was a severe shortage of ashtrays. With a 1,000 plus people smoking cigars it didn’t take long to see piles of cigar butts everywhere. A couple of vendors had large ashtrays they would keep emptying but for the most part cigar butts littered the place.
This was my first cigar festival and I really enjoyed myself. I can easily recommend going to it. I felt you got a lot of value for the cost of the ticket and I’m planning on attending next year. I hope to see you there as well.