The 9th Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival returns to Ybor next month

With limited capacity, social distancing regulations, and sanitation stations.

click to enlarge CUBAN SANDWICH FESTIVAL/ FACEBOOK
CUBAN SANDWICH FESTIVAL/ FACEBOOK

Massive events are a thing of the pastat least for now. Due to COVID-19, the 9th Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival had to pivot in order to follow safety regulations for both guests and vendors.

This year, the festival will look much different. Rather than the streets being crowded with Cuban sando fans, social distancing will be enforced, masks will be required and sanitation stations will be aplenty. According to the Facebook page, the event is billed as a "drive-in festival."

On Sunday, Nov. 8, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., attendees will gather at Centro Asturiano de Tampa—located at 1913 N. Nebraska Ave. in Ybor City—for the “Sunday Smackdown” where over 100 vendors from all over the world will be competing to win the title of Best Cuban Sandwich. Like every year, the festival will attempt to break its previous record for Biggest Cuban Sandwich in the World. This year’s goal is a 200-foot sando, which will then be donated to a homeless shelter to feed those in need.

Because of social distancing rules, those itching to get in on the action need to register for a free ticket beforehand, as there will only be a limited number of tickets issued. Attendees can opt for three different time slots for the festival: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and 4 p.m.-6 p.m. In other words, don’t sleep on registering. Registration is available on eventbrite.com.

VIP tickets range from $50-$225 depending on your group size. Those who opt for the VIP experience will get red carpet pictures, access to a shaded area, and samples of the Cuban Sandwich contest entries and refreshments.

The festival is also set to host live music as well as DJs, dance performances and booze for purchase. Although it is free to attend, be sure to bring dough for food and drinks for you and your gang.

Want to make a weekend out of it? The day before the Cuban Sandwich Festival, the 2nd Annual Ford’s Taste of Latino Festival is set to go down in the same space from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Join in on celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by eating fat plates of food, and getting a little tipsy while enjoying live performances.

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