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New and now: Ohio festivals, NYC boroughs, Cigar Aficionado

May 26, 2015

OHIO FESTIVALS

Summer fun in Ohio isn’t just about riding roller coasters at Cedar Point and watching the Cleveland Indians or Cincinnati Reds play baseball. There are also some fun and quirky festivals around the state.

The Duct Tape Festival in Avon, June 19-21, looks at duct tape not just as a handy way to fix things but as a medium for fashion, arts, crafts and downright silliness. There will be games, food and music, along with sticky parades and a fashion show.

The Dean Martin Festival in Steubenville, June 18-20, brings back the casual cool and glam of the Rat Pack era in Dean Martin’s hometown, with parades, performances from Martin impersonators and more.

The Washboard Music Festival in Logan, June 18-20, showcases the washboard as a musical instrument. Bands from around the country will perform. Visitors can tour the Columbus Washboard Company, which still manufactures washboards.

The Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta, July 15-19, is held in the hometown of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The festival includes a Moon Pie eating contest and bed race.

And you might be seeing double if you’re in Twinsburg, Aug. 7-9, when thousands of twins show up for a 5K race, fireworks and other activities.

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THE OUTER BOROUGHS

New Yorkers refer to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island as “the outer boroughs” to distinguish them from Manhattan. Lately, the outer boroughs are getting some love from the travel industry.

Brooklyn’s emergence as a tourist destination is nothing new, but Fodor’s, the travel publisher, has plans to issue a 240-page book on Sept. 15 devoted entirely to Brooklyn. It’s the first of its kind from a major, mainstream travel publisher to focus solely on the borough. It will look at 30 neighborhoods along with “best bet” recommendations from pizza to art to mom-and-pop stores, plus major attractions such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Coney Island and the popular weekly food festival and flea market, Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea.

Meanwhile the Bronx is offering a free visitors guide, downloadable at http://www.ilovethebronx.com/index.php/guide . The brochure showcases attractions large and small from organized tours and local restaurants to the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage (yes, he lived in the Bronx!) and Orchard Beach.

Finally, a new private tour company has launched The Brooklyn Queens Experience offering trips to neighborhoods with an emphasis on the arts, local culture and food vendors. Details at http://www.bqetours.com/ .

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CIGAR AFICIONADO GOES TO CUBA

Cigar Aficionado magazine’s June issue is devoted to a place that’s famous for cigars: Cuba.

The magazine’s detailed recommendations for things to do in Cuba range from dining to music to bars to, of course cigars — and not just smoking them, but taking touring a Cuban cigar factory. In Havana, factories offering tours include Partagas and H. Upmann.

“It’s kind of nice to watching something being made by hand,” said Cigar Aficionado publisher David Savona. “The only ingredients in a good cigar are good tobacco leaves and know-how. ... The cigar is rolled in a manner that hasn’t changed in centuries.”

If you’re buying cigars to bring back to the U.S. as souvenirs, remember that there is a combined legal limit on Cuban cigars and liquor of $100 worth of purchases. What you buy could be confiscated upon re-entry to the U.S. if you violate the rules, so mind your spending and save receipts.

Savona also recommends saying no if you’re offered cigars on the street, because the highest quality smokes are sold in shops. In addition to factories like Partagas and Upmann, you can buy cigars in specialty shops, some of which are found in major hotels like the Melia Habana and Hotel Nacional.

Visits to Cuba by Americans have boomed in recent months. The U.S. bans tourism there but travelers are finding other ways to go, from authorized “people to people” tours to flying in from third countries like Mexico.

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