Get To Know Your Neighbor At Tucson Meet Yourself

October 5, 2015

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

by Liz Felix

While the rest of the country prepares itself for the chilly days ahead, Tucsonans know they still have plenty of time to enjoy the sun and bask in all its glory. It’s only October after all, which makes it the perfect time to visit Downtown for Tucson Meet Yourself, a folklife festival that aims to bring together the Tucson community with food and entertainment, centered around the traditions, culture and diversity that makes up the Old Pueblo.

Founded in 1974 by University of Arizona folklorist and anthropologist Dr. James “Big Jim” Griffith, Tucson Meet Yourself is held each year in Downtown Tucson. The festival joins local vendors, artists, social clubs and organizations in celebrating not only the multiculturalism in Tucson but also to honor the important role the land and environment plays in creating a “sense of place” that’s special to the Southwest region.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

“Despite the proximity to Mexico and the layers of history both Native and of the various migrations West, Tucson really didn’t ‘know itself’ in the cultural sense,” says Maribel Alvarez, Executive Director of Southwest Folklife Alliance. “There was no easy way to share beauty, tradition and honor across distinct cultural enclaves. Tucson Meet Yourself changed that. It literally brought neighbors out of the shadows to meet in the public square and dance, eat, sing and taste each other’s cultures.”

Known to some locals as ‘Tucson Eat Yourself,’ this year the festival will be introducing some new foods and bringing back an old favorite Italian staple. Making its debut at the festival will be authentic Virgin Islands cuisine featuring Johnnycake (a cornmeal flatbread), Virgin Island-style fried chicken, pate, ginger beer, maubi, and pineapple and coconut tarts.

Japanese cuisine will also entering the festival as one of the newbies, introducing Takoaki Balls, a round snack that’s a favorite at festivals in Japan, made with green onion, ginger, octopus, egg, flower, dashi, topped with Takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed, and shredded bonito. And for those that want a taste of Italy, pizza is making its return to the festival after years of being absent since the closure of the Tucson’s Sons of Italy club.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

The 42nd edition of Tucson Meet Yourself will take place this weekend on October 9-11, hosting over 60 food vendors, 100 folk artists including two pavilions dedicated to Tohono O’odham and Yaqui artisans, 95 heritage performing arts groups, low-rider car shows and so much more.

Tucson Meet Yourself is still looking for volunteers, so if you’re interested in helping out click here to signup. Make sure to visit tucsonmeetyourself.org for more information on the festival including a list of performances, exhibitions, vendors and more.

Location, Date and Times:

El Presido Park
Jacome Plaza (Joel D. Valdez Library)
Pennington Street
Church Street

October 9, Friday: 11 am -10 pm
October 10, Saturday: 11 am -10 pm
October 11, Sunday: 11 am -6 pm

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