Festival honors the cigar industry's impact on Tampa

- Many Tampanians have parents or grandparents who worked in the cigar factories.  Tens of thousands of cigar workers came from other countries to work in Tampa's cigar factories in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They formed a unique culture.

"Tampa is the Cigar City. If you know anyone who's lived here for three or four or five generations, chances are they worked or someone in their family worked in the cigar industry," said Eric Newman, whose grandfather founded the J.C. Newman Cigar Company.

J.C. Newman is the sole operational cigar factory that remains in Ybor City.

This Sunday, Ybor City will remember and honor the industry that formed Tampa's unique culture with the Cigar Heritage Festival at Centennial Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"You have the Cubans, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Jews, the Germans, and it was a melting pot," explained Lisa Figueredo, who is heading up Sunday's festival.

The festival will feature cigars from everywhere, cigar-rolling demonstrations, food trucks, music, and vendors.

PHOTOS: Restored cigar factory 'a gift to Tampa'

"By having this festival, we're teaching children what Ybor City is, the beating heart of this whole city," offered Liana Fuente of the Arturo Fuente Cigar Company.

The festival is free of charge.

LINK: For more information on the festival, visit www.yborcitycigarfestival.com

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