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Agave Heritage Festival returns this weekend

The+Agave+Heritage+Festival+has+been+a+staple+of+Tucson+culture+for+the+last+several+years.+Courtesy+Agave+Heritage+Festival.
The Agave Heritage Festival has been a staple of Tucson culture for the last several years. Courtesy Agave Heritage Festival.

For all fans of mezcal, tequila and more, the Agave Heritage Festival is making its return from Thursday, April 18-Sunday, April 21, with events throughout the city.

The festival is a celebration of all things agave — the plant native to arid regions of the Americas that is responsible for food, sweetener and of course, several liquors. The four-day event features lectures, tastings, concerts, dinners, a poetry reading and more.

“One of the big changes from last year to this year is we’ve expanded a little bit more deeper into the community,” said Todd Hanley, the festival’s founder and director.

He pointed out the various aspects of the festival including culture, community and environmental conservation.

“The festival represents not mezcal, not tequila – it represents agave,” Hanley said. “And agave represents what’s important within our region.”

The Agave Heritage Festival started in 2008 as a one-day tequila tasting event and has evolved over the years into an immersive educational experience. After rebounding from its pandemic hiatus last year, the festival has more events than ever. This year, it’s even featuring a Brazilian orchestra that will perform around the state on a six-day cultural exchange.

One of the media sponsors for the event is Mezcalistas, a mezcal-focused resource and publication co-founded by Susan Coss.

Coss fell in love with the festival a few years ago and now also helps with the event schedule. This year, she and Mezcalistas have helped to organize Raíces, a series of discussions with industry experts held at Tooley’s Cafe, 299 S. Park Ave.; and Mujer Agave, an event hosted by a coalition of successful mezcal-producing women based in Mexico.

The festival is bringing presenters and experts from far and wide to attend, including Berta Vazquez, a renowned mezcal producer from Oaxaca, Mexico.

“One of the great things about the festival for me is to have people like her come to Tucson to share their life, their craft,” said Doug Smith, the owner of Exo Roast Co. who also helps with the festival’s programming and has studied agave culture as an anthropologist.

Coss said Tucson is the ideal place to celebrate agave. The event aims to attract visitors from around the country to experience the uniqueness of this area.

“The beauty of this event is in its location, and the shared landscape and cultural legacy with Mexico and the Sonoran desert,” Coss said.

She also praised the events programming, directed by Francisco Terrazas, a Tucson-native and expert in Mexican spirits.

“I think it’s a point of pride for Tucson,” Smith said. “There’s nothing like it in the world.”

Some events are free to the public while others require tickets or registration. Visitors can see the full schedule of events and purchase tickets on the festival website.


Arizona Sonoran News is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.


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