The 2017 International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Convention has come and gone. While it took place in Las Vegas like last year, there were significant differences – and these not all due to the fact that the venue had changed from the Sands Expo to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Once again, we covered all four days, as well as the seminars the day before the show. And we’re very glad we did. While we didn’t hit absolutely every vendor (and some of them we had really wanted to see), we got really good coverage.
The FDA information seminars were pretty much a summation of last year’s information, with some additional updates. The good news is that the Agriculture Appropriations Bill has made it out of committee and onto the floor, with the language exempting premium cigars and pipes from FDA oversight. Please contact your congressman and stress the importance of this bill.
The event began with a bang. The kickoff party was sponsored by General Cigar, and featured their new Black and White lines of Macanudo (plus some interesting fumas for those who wanted to taste the ingredients before checking out the final product) along with free t-shirts, open bars and plenty of free food.
That night, we also attended a press party thrown by Mombacho Cigars, featuring a four-course meal, artisanal rum, free beer and, of course, Mombacho cigars.
Tuesday night, Cigar Dojo hosted an event at the En Fuego Cigar Lounge just off the strip, with cigar specials and a raffle that included a trip to Nicaragua. And 38 Special played at the Cigar Bash, IPCPR’s annual event.
The absolute highlight of the convention this year was the keynote breakfast featuring former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He inspired retailers and vendors alike with the message that the current administration was a friend to small business and an enemy to government regulations. We later heard that there were some ‘partisan grumblers’ scattered in the crowd. But three standing ovations speak for themselves. To say Giuliani was a huge hit is like saying that the Empire State Building is tall.
The convention floor this year was different, being in a larger venue. That made for a more workable layout. The empty spaces were spread around the floor instead of all being at the back. And since the overall space was larger, there was a lot more room in the aisles between the displays. Also, the Convention Center opened the back doors, so the walk from the hotel was not as long as before. Even better, the exhibits in the back got just as much coverage as the big guys in the front. It all worked out great.
There were more media events taking place on the floor this year. Davidoff, Plasencia and Ventura all had media-specific events, introducing their new lines and telling their stories. Drew Estate also had an evening media party, and was nice enough to save press materials for anyone who could not make the event.
Old friends, new names and the news that the Convention will be in Las Vegas again last year made this another memorable event. Look for a long stream of news and reviews of cigars, and their makers, coming up on Cigar Weekly.