By: Greg Mays
The Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival in Colorado is quickly becoming one of the premier events for cigar enthusiasts in the country. This was year 7 for the Festival, which provides an opportunity for brands to interface directly with smokers and in the shadow of an IPCPR where 400+ new cigars were introduced, Rocky Mountain allows cigar enthusiasts a first-crack at some of the new products on the market.
August 20 was a beautiful Saturday in Broomfield, a northern suburb of Denver, and home to the Fest. Omni Interlocken Hotel hosts the event, which it nestles in rows of tents between the hotel and the nearby golf course. Several live bands played throughout the day and a meal (sponsored by Camacho) was provided for attendees.
There are two primary types of tickets for Rocky Mountain: VIP and general admission, which will dictate the amenities afforded to the attendee. General admission tickets are $165 and include a generous swag bag with a lighter, cutter, your tasting glass for the event and approximately 40 cigars in a Boveda humidor bag. VIPs pay $265 (or more, if they choose Executive VIP status) for early admission to the Festival, nearly double the cigars, access to the shaded VIP seating area and 2 full-sized drinks.
Five drink tickets are included in each packet, which gives a chance to taste (in a branded mini-beer mug) the many Colorado beers and cocktails made by local distilleries (though a neat or on-the-rocks pour was ok too). Standout spirits for me were Breckenridge Distillery’s Spiced Rum, the limited release of Axe and the Oak’s new bourbon, and Feisty Spirits’ Better Days bourbon, which distills rarely-used spelt as one of their primary grains making their bourbon both spicy and unusually sweet. Cayman Jack was sampling their bottled Cuban Mojitos that paired well with lighter cigars and afford a quick ready-to-drink cocktail option.
Rocket Mountain Cigar Fest is mostly a regional event, and a majority of the enthusiasts are Colorado based, with some from nearby New Mexico, Arizona and Utah as well. The event had near 2,000 in attendance, and as it’s a relatively short day (noon to 6:30) most who come stay for the whole day.
Cigar representatives from all the major brands manned the booths, many with large discounts on product (up to 50-60% off of boxes). Events like “Pool with an Angel” (pictured) allowed organizations like Cigar Rights of America and Smoker Friendly to fundraise. While most booths were cigar companies or breweries/distilleries, there were a handful of accessory and lifestyle providers, too, like Xikar or Prudential Investments.
Some brands were showing new products that they’d introduced at IPCPR in July and it was the first chance for retail customers to pick up some of these new blends. A few brands, Foundry and Rocky Patel in particular, had not-yet-introduced products that they were showing at the event that customers could preview, but not yet buy.
In the wake of recent FDA decisions, I did note that the cigar reps were not willing to give samples of their cigars to smokers, though nearly all of their brands were represented in the humidor bag you get with admission.
Rocky Mountain Cigar Fest makes for a very full day for smokers who need to re-stock their humidors, socialize with southwestern friends and to connect with their favorite brand reps for heavily-discounted boxes of their favorite cigars. Several hundred who’d come to the show — particularly those from out of town — stayed behind afterwards to talk with brand reps and enjoy dinner at the indoor-outdoor Tap Room at the Omni.
If you’re doing the math on travel, discounts, and cigars and accessories, $165 is a great deal for general admission to Rocky Mountain and 40 great hand-rolled cigars. Add to that the social events and the time meeting with favorite brands, and RMCF is a great event for cigar lovers who are within a day’s drive of Denver for sure.