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Celebrate America’s only cigar factory at this gigantic Founder’s Day block party

The exterior of a building

Ybor City is, quite fittingly, home to America’s last operational cigar factory, and as the company celebrates its 129th anniversary, locals are invited to join in on a gigantic party. J.C. Newman Cigar Co. is hosting its 4th annual Founder’s Day celebration on Saturday, May 18 from 11 am – 3 pm, hosted in their historic Ybor factory at 2701 North 16th Street.

A highlight of the free and sprawling party is a Cuban sandwich eating challenge, which will feature celebrity competitive eaters Miki Sudo and Nick Wehry (known as The Hungry Couple) taking on local celebrity Drew Garabo from 102.5 The Bone and the enthusiastic employees of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Featuring mouthwatering Cubans, the company is aiming to set a new world record for “the most Cuban sandwiches devoured in a thrilling eight-minute frenzy.” The competition will take place in the new Cigar Worker’s Park outside the factory.

People posing for a picture

As for the party itself, it will truly be a celebration of not just the factory, but the community that has supported it. All factory tours on the day of the Founder’s Day celebration are completely free, and guests will be able to peruse the museum (which includes the world’s oldest cigars), visit the shop, dance to live music, participate in yard games, and grab food from some of the area’s best food trucks.

The entire main parking lot will be shut down for the celebration, creating a festival feel right in the middle of Ybor City. And even better – there will still be free parking in the area, courtesy of the J.C. Newman overflow lots nearby. The company advises simply following the signs to find parking.

Not only will there also be an outdoor smoking lounge, but J.C. Newman is offering 5-cent cigars all day. They will be selling Sanchez y Haya cigars, a recreation of Tampa’s first cigar rolled in 1886, for a special throwback price of 5 cents each (limit 2 per person) with any purchase of $20 or more (while supplies last).

Families are encouraged to bring all members, as there will also be balloon artists on hand, as well as children’s science experiment stations courtesy of MOSI. Learn more about the Founder’s Day celebration here.

World’s greatest competitive eating couple takes over Tampa

While the celebration is focused on the historic cigar company founded in 1895, we’re certainly excited for a celebrity sighting as part of the festivities, too. Miki Sudo and Nick Wehry, The Hungry Couple, are some of the world’s most accomplished competitive eaters, and together make up what is surely the most gastronomically-destructive couple on Earth – and we can’t wait to see them in action.

Sudo currently holds the women’s world record of eating 48.5 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs in 10 minutes, and she won her ninth title on July 4, 2023 with 39.5 hot dogs and buns eaten. Hold the ketchup and mustard, please.

Meanwhile, Wehry holds his own full list of world records, including eating 50 hard boiled eggs in 3:02 minutes, 188 pistachios in 8 minutes, 223 chicken wings in 10 minutes, and 46 Moon Pies in 8 minutes. He is ranked #4 in the World of Competitive Eating. Sudo and Wehry also hold the joint world record for couple’s competitive eating with a combined 88 hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes.

Learn more about The J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Founder’s Day party and Cuban Sandwich Eating Competition here.

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