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Cuba Nostalgia offers a slice of old Cuban culture


Special to The Miami Herald
When Jackie Sarracino first opened her Little Havana clothing shop aimed at the Cuban exile community — including shirts boasting “Made in America with Cuban parts” — she felt she needed a way to promote her wares.

Lucky for her, she heard about the annual Cuba Nostalgia, then in its infancy.

Now, the yearly festival that celebrates the Cuba of yesteryear has grown — as has Sarracino’s business.

“When they did the first show, there was no space,” said Sarracino, who has run Maxoly Cuban apparel, located in Little Havana, since 1999.

Sarracino, like many other local vendors, looks forward to showcasing their latest products at Cuba Nostalgia, which is in its 12th year and takes place at the Miami-Dade Dade County Fair-Expo Center, from Friday to Sunday.

For Sarracino, Cuba Nostalgia is her signature event where she presents her new clothing designs.

“I know that what people buy at the show will be what’s going to be sold the rest of the year,” said Sarracino, who has about 40 new designs.

At the event, festival-goers will be able to take a trip to memory lane by visiting recreated historical landmarks of the Caribbean island like the Havana Cathedral and El Malecon. The fair also highlights the country’s cuisine, memorabilia and live traditional music like the guaracha and mambo.

Numerous vendors will sell products like cigars, music, guayaberas and cafécito cups. The traditional Cuban drink Mojito, made of mint leaves, lime juice, sugar and rum, will be served.

Leslie Pantin, president of Cuba Nostalgia, said the three-day show introduces Cuban culture to those who aren’t familiar with it.

The show focuses on the pre-Castro era, when Havana was a tropical destination known for its fashionable nightlife.

“We extend a warm welcome to all those who wish to celebrate Miami’s Cuban heritage. Cuba Nostalgia is a journey back in time for those who remember the island’s glamorous times, and for those who never experienced them,” Pantin said.

Appropriately, Cuba Nostalgia is celebrated around the time of Cuba’s Independence Day, May 20.

This year features a tribute to legendary musician Beny Moré.

Cuban art from well-known artists like Wilfredo Lam and Domingo Ramo will be on sale.

Little Havana art gallery Latin Art Core president Israel Moleiro will have about 30 paintings for sale.

“These are art pieces that you will only see in the fair,” he said. Moleiro said people from all over the country come to see the arts.

As for Sarracino, she is excited to launch her new merchandise, including polo shirts with the vintage Havana baseball logo and a Cuban flag on the sleeve.

Also new this year are T-shirts featuring Santeria deities like Babalú Aye and Changó.

She credits Cuba Nostalgia for her success.

“It turned out to be a business of its own,” she said.

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