Garden Sage: An agave with pups

Agaves are easily propagated from the offsets, also known as pups. Now is a fine time to plant them.

Peter L. Warren

The ninth annual Agave Heritage Festival moves around downtown through the weekend.

It’s May, which means the Hotel Congress is hosting its Agave Heritage Festival, now in it’s ninth year and bigger than ever.

And it has its very own official proclamation — Mayor Jonathan Rothschild planned to declare “Agave Heritage Festival Days,” through May 7.

The proclamation is one highlight of Tucson’s first officially UNESCO endorsed City of Gastronomy event.

“It’s become a wonderful borderland festival. It’s just terrific,” said David Slutes, entertainment director at Hotel Congress.

Tucson being named the first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy in the United States in late 2015 was a massive boost to drawing more partners to the festival.

The Agave Heritage Festival now includes dinners, lectures and seminars and other festivities all centered on the agave. While it started at Hotel Congress, it has grown to embrace partners such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Tucson Botanical Gardens, and the Mexican Consulate among others.

“Everyone sees how this could grow and that the future is very bright for this festival,” Slutes said.

Some highlights:

Explore downtown through presentations of agave spirits and light bites with Mezcrawl, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m. May 4. Check in at Hydra, 145 E. Congress St. The cost is $25, or $40, which includes a commemorative T-shirt. This event is limited to 50 tickets.

The Agave Heritage Dinner on Friday, May 5, features chefs Janos Wilder and Brian Smith leading diners on a four-course exploration. The dinner runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on Maynards Plaza Patio. There are vegetarian/vegan options. The cost is $110 per person plus tax and gratuity. Funds from this event help support Native Seed Search.

Cinco de Mayo Party — The happy hour starts at 5 p.m. and the music at 7 May 5 at Club Congress with hosts El Tambo and DJ Dirtyverbs, and a CD release from local Latin favorites Santa Pachita. This plaza event is free until 9 p.m., and only $3 after that.

Agave Fest is 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Master Mezalier Sergio Inurrigario starts things off with an Agave 101. There will be more than 40 tastes of tequilas, mezcals, sotols and bacanoras, in addition to music, a cocktail competition, education and demonstrations. Tickets are $30-$35 at the door.

On Sunday, May 7, the event moves to The Carriage House, 125 S. Arizona Ave., for an Agave Heritage Brunch with chefs Wilder and Anthony Coluci from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $55, plus tax and gratuity. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden.

There is also a diverse lineup of lectures and seminars such as a Mezcal and Chocolate Pairing Seminar for $15 at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at Maynards Market & Kitchen Drawing Room.

Get the full schedule of events or buy tickets in advance at at hotelcongress.com/events/may