When the 2017 IPCPR editorial assistant reached out to me earlier this year with a text that basically read: “Hey, strange proposal. Do you want to go to Vegas and help out a few guys that run a cigar blog?” I had to say yes.

In total transparency, I knew nothing about cigars. I still don’t know much, but I did enjoy my first cigar at this year’s trade show thanks to the halfwheel team. What I did, however, know, was how to edit video, edit text and manage WordPress. So when I first talked to Charlie over the phone, I was hooked.

Note: As we have done for the last few years, I asked our Heather, the person for editing and publishing posts and videos during the show to write a short post describing her experience. Unlike prior years, Heather was actually in Vegas with us and she also made a short video. Heather’s post has been edited with italics and links, but the words are all her own. — CM.

It never really hit me that I would be traveling to Vegas until I boarded the plane. On Thursday, July 13—only four days after my 21st birthday—I had the last day of my journalism internship in North Carolina and went immediately to the airport. The rest of the trip was a whirlwind of excitement.

If it wasn’t clear through their coverage of more than 100 booths at IPCPR, the halfwheel team works ridiculously hard. Charlie, Brooks, Brian and Patrick are all passionate, hardworking, quirky and dedicated. And it shows through their work.

There were definitely times when I felt overwhelmed, like when Charlie had the idea to host a three-hour-long Facebook Live in Vegas without air conditioning. But, like most other things during IPCPR, it more than worked out — in fact it was a success.

There were also times when everything quieted down around me, I was in the halfwheel bunker all alone and was left to edit dozens of videos and post articles to the website. These were some of my favorite times of the show.

Then, in just a few moments the team would rush in, give me their cameras and SD cards and frantically start writing. These times were also special and exciting.

IPCPR 2018 had some ups and downs from the perspective of the halfwheel editorial assistant. Some of the positives included: Las Vegas Convention Center Chinese Buffet, trying my first Davidoff cigar, quiet moments in the halfwheel bunker and meeting all kinds of fascinating people.

Some of the negatives? Being caught on security tape doing a 15-minute yoga series, prioritizing anything but sleep and occasionally frustrating Charlie.

Overall, IPCPR was an awesome experience. I learned how a modern media company works, I learned the difference between Nicaraguan and Dominican cigars, I learned the importance of family in the cigar business.

So here’s a shout-out to Charlie, Patrick, Brooks and Brian: the team that never quit, even though there were times when everyone considered it. Your work paid off, and I loved cheering you on from the sidelines.

Until next time,


Davidoff is the official sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
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Heather Hartel

I am a recent graduate from Wake Forest University where I studied economics, politics & international affairs and journalism. While at school I was the online managing editor for Wake Forest's student newspaper, the Old Gold & Black. During my time here I also began the Unmasked Podcast with another journalism student, which explored underreported issues on the Wake Forest campus; previous episodes were about campus sexual assault, anonymous donations to the university and issues with university staff. I am now working full-time reporting on the national news desk for American City Business Journals in Charlotte.