Patagonia, Arizona, is a charming town of 903 residents located just south of the Coronado National Forest. Great for your next vacation, you’ll encounter outdoor adventures, wineries, and the Patagonia Fall Festival.
While the town may be relatively small, you’ll find a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay. Patagonia is one of the top birding locations in North America, and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is a premier destination located just a short trip from town. You’ll encounter over 300 species of birds here, including the elusive Gray Hawk. In addition to watching the sky for rare birds, the area offers a variety of other outdoor adventures. Patagonia Lake State Park is a short trip south of town and is loaded with things to do including fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and much more. The Coronado National Forest offers diverse ecology, wildlife and a range of activities. Whether you're exploring the canyons via horseback or camping under the night sky, this park has something for everyone.
Southern Arizona wineries are a drive up scenic Highway 82 from Patagonia. Sonoita Vineyard is located in Elgin and is the oldest commercial winery in the state. The vineyard sprawls out over 60 acres with postcard-like backdrops of mountains and hilly grasslands in every direction. They offer tastings, tours, events, and the opportunity to purchase their award winning vintages by the bottle or case. Kief-Joshua Vineyards is also located in Elgin and is perched on 20 acres right on Southern Arizona's “Winery Row. They produce full-bodied wines and offer a variety of vintages. You’ll find tastings, classes, tours, pairing suggestions, bottle sales and more.
The Patagonia Fall Festival has been a major draw to the community for nearly three decades. With an expected attendance of over 15,000 patrons, this is a huge event for a community of 903 people. You’ll find a collection of over 140 art, food, and wine vendors. The event is family friendly and will feature live music, puppet shows, games for kids, and the list goes on. The food options will appeal to everyone, whether you're into veggies or BBQ. Take this great opportunity to get to know this unique community and all it has to offer. We got the chance to interview Bonnie Maclean, representative for the event, to talk about all the fun festivities.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
BM: This is Patagonia Fall Festival’s 28th year. The Festival draws around 15,000 visitors over three days. We have over 140 artists, non-profit organizations, wineries, distilleries, food vendors, and several sponsors participating.
RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?
BM: The event is family friendly. Typically visitors here are in the adult age range, however children are welcome as well.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
BM: It is located in a beautiful town park setting in a town of less than 1,000 people. The entire town gets involved for this highly anticipated event.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
BM: Three days of music and entertainment including a puppet show, Americana and classical music. There will be artists, specialty food booths, food vendors, and children's activity booth.
RAL: What will attendees find for dining?
BM: It's a festival that's also a dining extravaganza. This year we have BBQ, roasted corn, Asian dumplings, Thai BBQ, sno cones, gourmet burgers, vegetarian fare, and lots more.
RAL: What is the environment like?
BM: The event takes place in our Town Park, which has plenty of open space, trees, and grass. Patagonia is nestled in the foothills of the Patagonia Mountain Range. It's a riparian rarity in Arizona and a great place for wildlife and nature lovers.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
BM: Local lodging fills up quickly and includes the newly remodeled Stagestop Inn and a wide variety of cottages and B&B’s. Also available are two RV parks in town and the Patagonia Lake State Park campground. If Patagonia fills up, there are many more rooms in either Sonoita (15 minutes NE) and Nogales (20 minutes SW). Visitors can find links to lodging here.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
BM: This event is a huge boost to the local economy. In a town of fewer than 1,000 residents, 15,000 visitors means that our local businesses have a great beginning to the fall season.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
BM: Time after time, we hear visitors say they discovered Patagonia during the Fall Festival and decided to come back when the crowds were gone. The slow pace of life in Patagonia is particularly attractive for visitors from Tucson, Phoenix, and beyond.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community? (School funds, etc.)
BM: The event helps support our local visitor center and other visitor related activities. The additional tax revenue from sales is an important part of our town's budget. A portion of the proceeds is always set aside to help support the town park.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
BM: Visitors will find our area contains Old West culture, mining history, and ghost towns. The area is home to art galleries, wineries, and unique shops. The "Sky Islands" of Arizona feature tremendous biodiversity and the many conservation areas draw bird and wildlife enthusiasts from around the world!
For more information about the Patagonia Fall Festival, please visit their website.