Drag Races at Arizona Hops & Vines (04/23/16)



While struggling with constant failures of technology (cars breaking down, laptops breaking down…) as I’m in the throes of final papers, one of the few things keeping me sane was/is an impending week of drag shows. Today’s show was hosted by the winery and brewery Hops & Vines located in Sonoita, Arizona – about an hour’s drive from Tucson.

Having never travelled in this direction in Arizona before, I was taken aback by the quickly changing scenery as hills rolled before me, grass started to sprout and…lo and behold…trees appeared before my very eyes! The scenery felt so different from any area I’d been in in Arizona before, that I mentioned it to someone afterwards only to find out that Oklahoma! was actually filmed in the area (though the cornstalks had to be imported)! As one of my favorite musicals, this was pretty exciting to find out, and I now have plans to pop the film in my DVD player and check it out.

Once we walked up the hilly, dirt-covered, gravel path up to Hops & Vines after parking, we all noticed two things: one, the wind was INSANELY strong and the hats we brought were not going to be used much, and two, we probably shouldn’t have worn heels.


Taco hat syndrome – no good!

The event had a surprisingly good turnout as a $10-$20 ticket came with one food ticket for the present food trucks, six drink tasting tickets, and one souvenir wine glass, but sadly, the majority of attendees were not in drag. There were hardly more than a handful of drag queens who’d gone full out – with the occasional fellow adorning a dress – so my friends and I made our way inside the actual winery to make use of our free drink tasting tickets. We weren’t smitten with anything we tried except for the first white wine, appropriately titled “The Drag Queen.”

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After making use of our last drink tickets, we made our way outside to watch the drag race. While the drag race itself was a sprint that hardly lasted a minute before it was over, I was incredibly impressed by the two gals actually booking it to the “finish line” in heels (the winner wore sneakers – cheater!), as well as the pure fabulousness of the girls who walked slowly behind, milking every step and moment. Sadly, my favorite gal of the day was a sprinter in heels, so I hardly had the chance to try to keep my hair out of my face in the extreme wind enough to see her run by, much less attempt taking a photo!

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After the race itself, we went back inside to avoid the high winds for awhile before deciding to head back to the car to drop off our bottle of The Drag Queen and take a few photos for my outfit of the day. Along the way, we saw a group of queens taking photos, so quickly ran over to take the opportunity. The gal on the right was my favorite of the lot since her blue outfit, make-up, hair, and generally everything was so on point, and she also happened to stick around the longest – the only queen who stayed till the end of the event. They were all incredibly sweet and friendly and seemed to want to take a photo with me as much as I wanted to take a photo with them. The cost of being the only other person who looked “dressed up,” I suppose 😉

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After the quick photo op with the drag queens, we moved on to have one of our own in the parking lot. The wind – and our headlong dive into cliche desert photos – led to some great images (of all sorts).

All in all, it was an amazing event. While I think it could draw a wider array of spectators and participants if the “drag” portion of the show lasted more than a minute (lip-sync battles, anyone???), the cost was more than worth it considering the wine tasting, free food ticket, photo ops, race, and the gorgeous surroundings – with the wind keeping us cooler than us Tucsonans are accustomed to. The inside of the brewery was a mild temperature with plenty of comfortable seating the majority of the time and a classic Southern Arizona feel. They’re supposedly having another similar event while showing “Casablanca,” and I fully plan to attend!