Fall indeed is in the air in Willcox, and that means it’s time for the Willcox Wine Country Fall Festival, Sat. and Sun., October 19-20, 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. This is my all-time favorite wine festival, held at the historic Railroad Park in downtown Willcox. Just an hour’s drive east of Tucson on I-10, the festival is a perfect, peaceful, and entertaining getaway—not too far, but feels a world away. Your $15 tasting fee includes eight wine tastings, a commemorative glass, and live entertainment. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased at the hospitality kiosk.
Festival-goers will choose from more than 100 wines—including a few new releases—from 19 Arizona wineries: Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Kokopelli Winery, Dos Cabezas Wine Works, Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, Kief-Joshua Vineyards, Carlson Creek Vineyards, Pillsbury Wine Company, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Zarpara Vineyard, Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, Pierce Vineyards/Saeculum Cellars, Coronado Vineyards, Gallifant Cellars, Page Springs Cellars, Flying Leap Vineyards, Golden Rule Vineyards, Cellar 433, Burning Tree Cellars, and Grand Canyon Winery.
Food will be available on-site from the Dragoon Cafe and La Cocina Antigua. Several other vendors will be showcasing their locally grown and made products.
Tom Johnson, one of the main festival organizers, has out-done himself with the most incredible lineup of music performers for this fall’s festival. The schedule is jam-packed with a few old favorites and several new groups for your listening and dancing pleasure. You’ll want to grab a bottle of wine or two, some food, and find a spot to toss out a blanket or a few chairs to relax and enjoy the afternoon’s entertainment each day. Or just get up and dance whenever the muse stirs you.
Four different bands will be playing on Sat., Oct. 19:
11:00 a.m. Leila Lopez
Combining poetic lyrics and a unique playing style, Leila Lopez has a captivating presence and unique style of expression. Leila began to play guitar when she was eight years old, and eventually moved on to learn the bass guitar, piano, cello, drums, banjo, and mandolin. Leila’s music was recognized in 2008 during the Tucson Area Music Awards (TAMMIES), receiving an award for best female vocalist, and again in 2009, winning in both the female vocalist category, as well as an award for best folk artist.
12:00 p.m. Steff and The Articles
In 2008, singer-songwriter Steff Koeppen began recording demos with a couple of friends of songs she had written on piano. By the end of 2009, she had organized what would become the definitive lineup of The Articles—Tom Beech on drums, Chris Pierce on bass, and Alexandra Tuggle on violin. Steff and The Articles released Stories You Can’t Tell in 2012, followed by the single, It Really Is Quite Lonely Here. The Tucson-based ensemble produces music that touches on classical, jazz, and folk styles while maintaining an accessible, pop-oriented sound, but the band invites you to be the judge.
1:30 p.m. Vannessa Lundon and Friends
Vannessa Lundon brings vital energy to the new voice of local folk/rock that has been developing in southern Arizona over the past few years. Heartfelt and understated, yet energetic and thoroughly enjoyable, the music of Vannessa Lundon produces a new sound that is comfortable and distinctly Arizona.
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Roll Acosta
Roll Acosta consists of principal vocalist/songwriter Jacob Acosta, Kevin Frederick on violin/mandolin and Andre Gressieux on drums/percussion. Acosta’s Robert-Smith-meets-Andrew-Bird vocals become a canvas to Frederick’s soaring voice on the strings, and Gressieux’s driving pulse.
The Sun., Oct. 20 lineup includes two-bands-in-one playing all day, from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.
Buzz and the Soul Senders will be performing with Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl. Buzz and the Soul Senders is a versatile group of talented musicians from southern Arizona with a strong background in blues and funky soul. Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl will play as part of Buzz and the Soul Senders, occasionally adding their own critically acclaimed songs to the mix. Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl have received rave reviews of their most recent CD Children of Fortune. Not only is their music uniquely Arizona, it is an exciting update of the Folk/Americana genre. With solid and emotive songwriting, Derrick’s wonderful guitar work, and Amy’s amazing voice, it’s easy to see why they are a beloved fixture of the Willcox Wine Country events.
On Saturday, at 4:00 p.m., TRUST Art & Design will give away an original artwork by a local artist and a one-night stay at beautiful Sunglow Ranch. Every wine-tasting patron will receive a ticket to enter the drawing. The winner must be present to accept the prize. Drawing will take place in the park at 4:00 p.m. See the artwork TRUST is featuring.
The movie, Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997) will be shown twice at the Willcox Historic Theater on Sat., Oct. 19. A matinee will be offered at 2:00 p.m., introduced by Gayle Berry of the Willcox Historic Theater. Then, following the 5:00 p.m. pre-screening reception at the Keeling Schaefer Vineyards Tasting Room (across the street from the festival) with the film’s director and noted Arizona winemaker, Sam Pillsbury, he will introduce the evening showing at 6:00 p.m. Entrance to the movie is free; donations supporting the non-profit Willcox Historic Theater are encouraged.
This family-friendly movie is arguably the most visually stunning in the Free Willy series. Roger Ebert gave it a “thumbs up” and said it was “filled with sparkling nature cinematography.”
The Willcox Wine Country Festival deserves a “thumbs up” for showcasing fabulous Arizona wines along with a sparkling mix of simple pleasures. Hope to see you all at this festival next weekend. Cheers!