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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Summer of Rum to transform Cuban Club into Caribbean street festival

Anyone 21 and over experiencing the summer doldrums can get into the “rum zone” at the second annual Summer of Rum Festival on Aug. 16.

Organizer Ferdian Jap, of South Tampa, said this year’s event will take place from 2 to 11 p.m. at a new venue — the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

Jap said the event tends to attract a lot of single people, especially unattached women who come with a group of female friends.

In some cases, the event has spawned liquored-up love connections that have resulted in commitment.

Jap said organizers will transform the Cuban Club’s three floors. The top floor ballroom will be turned into the “Island Party,” while the second floor lobby and theater will be “The Pirate’s Cove.” The ground floor cantina will be turned into the “Mojito Lounge.”

“With the Cuban Club and Ybor City, we are looking forward to working with Ybor City’s boosters to see what we can do to incorporate the history as it relates to rum, especially with the Cuban community and the Cuban Club,” Jap said. “With the Cuban Club as a venue, I’m really excited to be able to program the space’s three floors into a themed area and also the awesome large outside area as the main concert area where we will try to make people feel like they are at a street festival in one of the Caribbean islands.”

Jap said the event coincides with National Rum Day, when people will be sipping some of the most popular rum drinks including mojitos, piña coladas and frozen daiquiris.

“We will be making several different flavored Mojitos using different flavored rum,” he said. “I think they’re really popular because it’s so refreshing .... For the true rum lovers, the dark and stormy is really popular, which is ginger beer and dark rum.”

Jap, who also helps organize the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival each year, said last year’s event was sold out. He expects a similar response this year.

“Many organizers go into hibernation and not plan any events because of the summer heat and daily rain downpours,” he said. “We see that as an opportunity to give people something to do. This is the main reason why we have to do the event in an inside/outside venue — just in case it rains.”

Monica Varner, a partner at Big City Events who is helping to coordinate the event, said she expects a turnout of 5,000 people this year.

Last year’s inaugural Summer of Rum Festival, which took place at the Heights Waterfront, drew a sold-out crowd of 4,000.

“The Cuban Club is the perfect place to hold this event due to our ability to make this into an indoor/outdoor event where attendees can cool off inside when it gets too hot,” Varner said.

Organizers encourage people to purchase their tickets early.

Other highlights of the event will include street performers such as a tiki carver, steel drums, bucket-drum type street performers and other random pop-up entertainment.

They will also have five live bands on the main stage, performing island- inspired music.

For noshing, there will be a combination of food trucks and food vendors including Caribbean foods and rum cakes.

GA Tickets to the festival start at $15 in advance. VIP tickets start at $75.

For details, visit www .SummerofRum Fest.com.

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