Part III - About The Great Smoke
About.com: February 16, 2013 is the date of your seventh annual Great Smoke cigar event in West Palm Beach. How many cigar lovers do you expect will attend this year, and how does this compare to prior years?
Abe: The Great Some has basically sold out the last 3 years. There are 1000 ticket holders who purchase full fare tickets and collect cigars. There are approximately another 200-300 attendees who come as spouses or girlfriends and simply enjoy the festivities. There are over 300 bodies there as exhibitors from cigar companies, beer & liquor representatives, & food service. Last but not least another 100 or so comprising of Entertainment, Staff, & Media.
About.com: The Great Smoke cigar event attracts visitors who do not live in Florida. How many different states are represented, and from where is the farthest that someone has traveled?
Abe: Originally designed to be a local event, the word spread fast and within 2 years the event attracted cigar lovers from all over the country & Canada! I believe one year we had over 16 states represented. The furthest I believe came from Seattle WA. A wife bought her husband a first class ticket and a VIP pass as a birthday gift…..great wife!
About.com: How may cigar makers will be at The Great Smoke this year (2013), and how many cigars will be given to attendees?
Abe: Fortunately being in Florida, The Great Smoke not only attracts almost every major manufacturer, but also their Principals. It is not an event just full of sales reps. Attendees get to actually meet and socialize with owners of the favorite cigar companies. These year 40 TOP BRANDS will be represented by 35 different cigar companies. The cigars attendees receive at The Great Smoke are not rejects, dogs or closeouts, but instead popular best selling brands. In fact this year J.C. Newman will be featuring their newest cigar from their Nicaraguan Factory Perla Del Mar. I had the pleasure of trying this new Nicaraguan box press Connecticut wrapped cigar. While I am not typically a fan of Connecticut wrapper, I found this cigar quite enjoyable with a nice kick and superb construction. Attendees should look forward to this special pre-release!
About.com: Besides cigars, what other items are given to all attendees?
Abe: Every attendee receives a commemorative Cooler Bag to place all his or her cigars in. Inside the bag you will find some goodies from our sponsors like complementary Cedar Spills from Commonwealth Cedar Spills.
About.com: How do this year's entertainment, libations, food, diversions, contests, etc. compare to prior years?
Abe: I am very proud of this years entertainment. First off returning again will be The On Target Band. Their classic rock and blues music have always been a Big Hit amongst TGS fans over the last 3 years. Also returning this year is world-renowned magician, Lance Laska, who will walk through the event area mesmerizing & baffling attendees he comes across. A little advice if you happen to run into Lance, better check your wrist for your watch if you shake his hand! In addition to our other great live entertainment, we are proud to bring to you, live from Las Vegas, The Scott Bros.: semifinalists in season 7 of "America's Got Talent”. These two bring dancing, illusions, and miming to a whole new level. When you see these two perform you never know quite what to expect, and that's what makes them both entertaining and unique with their uncanny ability to "pop and lock" in tandem.
Libations as always will be top notch with companies such as; Jack Daniels, Glen Fiddich, Dewars, Bacardi, Zaya Rum, Compass Box, Woodford Reserve, Three Olives Vodka, Samuel Adams Beer, Select red & white wines, and much more. Of course soft drinks and Voss water is available as well. If you get hungry one of our many themed food stations should serve you well. From Tex-Mex, Italian, Caribbean, to Southwest style, there will be a treat for very palate.
As far as diversions, TGS has had a Pre Event dinner for the last 4 years. This year the pre event dinner will be held in the DiMaggio Room at Monroe’s Gentlemen’s Club and Steakhouse the Friday night before. These year’s host will be Matt Booth from room 101 Cigars. Not only will every attendee (tickets sold separately – limited to 60) enjoy a 5 star meal amidst some great scenery, but also be the first in the country to receive a commemorative Room 101 Big Delicious 5 pack! The Room 101 Big Delicious cigar will be the sixth installment of Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series. Here is more information about Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series and more information on the Room 101 Big Delicious cigar.
Of course there is always a complimentary after party sponsored by Miami Cigar Company immediately after TGS in the Smoke Inn Courtyard. Attendees will be greeted by Body Painted models handing out..ANOTHER COMPLIMENTARY CIGAR! Live entertainment, drink specials, and fresh food will be provided by The Bull Bar & Grill.
Finally, lets talk contests. Last year we gave away a Chevy Camaro in celebration of our 15th Anniversary and it was a BIG hit. Now we cant give a car away every year…BUT…This we have made a 20lb solid sterling silver TGS logoed “bust” so to speak. One lucky attendee will take home this TGS Silver Bust valued at over $10,000!
About.com: Besides the cigar makers, have any celebrities attended The Great Smoke? Any that you know about this year?
Abe: Over the years the Great Smoke has had it’s share of special guest. In the past we have had the late Clarence Clemons, Sopranos Actor Joseph Gannascoli, Frankie Valli, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and various local radio personalities. This year MLB Legend and 500 home run hitter Gary Sheffield will be present at the Rocky Patel Booth.
About.com: Since you are moving Smoke Inn's headquarters to a new location in Boynton Beach, will next year's Great Smoke still be at the West Palm Beach location?
Abe: Boynton Beach will be our new worldwide headquarters. The 5000 sq/ft free standing building will be state of the art offering one of the largest walk in humidors you will ever see, a private vintage rare and limited room, vast lounge areas indoors and outdoors will a full service premium bar. Olen Properties, who own the Boynton Center, will be present this year to evaluate if the center can handle the capacity. While they would love to host the event, there are logistics to consider that put a heavy strain on a center for the day. We will probably make that decision shortly after this years Great Smoke.
About.com: Is there anything more that you would like to say about The Great Smoke?
Abe: The Great Smoke is something that I am very proud of. When I originally came up with the idea, everyone thought I was crazy. We had about 375 attendees that first year. Now The Great Smoke has become one of the Country’s premier Cigar Events. What makes it most special to me are the accolades I receive every year from within the cigar industry. Cigar Companies tell me that not only is this one of the most fun and organized events they do, but it is one they truly look forward to doing every year. On top of that, nothing gives you more of a warm fuzzy feeling than the hundreds of cigar fans who walk up to me every year expressing their deepest gratitude for putting on such a spectacular event. It is in those moments that all the headache and heartache endured putting the event on each year dissipate and makes it all worth the effort!
We thank Abe Dababneh very much for taking time out of his very busy schedule to provide answers to all of our questions in this interview. We'll be keeping an eye on Abe in the months and years ahead to see what he decides to accomplish next. His cigar journey is certain to continue like no other.
If you can't make it to The Great Smoke on February 16, 2013, About.com will be tweeting live from the event at about 1-5:00PM via twitter.com/aboutcigars.