Tucson Meet Yourself Back for the 39th Year of Showcasing Folklife

September 25, 2012

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

Tucson Meet Yourself, the Southwest’s largest folklife festival, returns Friday, Oct 12 through Sunday, Oct. 14. The 2012 festival will feature expanded programming with special themes and new events. There’s something for everyone—newcomers and veteran attendees alike! 

This authentic and educational celebration of cultural communities and living traditions worldwide will feature ethnic foods, folk art, dance and other performances as it has in years past. Favorites include food demonstrations, African American musical traditions stage, lowrider car show and folk artist demonstrations and sales. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend. Admission is free.

This year’s festival theme of “Live your story, share your world” will manifest in the 300 distinct music, dance, food, and folk arts presentations, demonstrations and educational experiences representing  work from more than 180 traditional artists and 45 ethnic and occupational groups. Standing apart from other multicultural celebrations in the Old Pueblo by its “folklife” mission, the festival is always preceded by scholarly research and extensive relationship-building with a variety of living traditional artists, folk groups and ethnic communities that reside here.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

The 2012 Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival will take place at seven adjacent sites spanning 60 acres in downtown Tucson: El Presidio Park, Pima County Main Library, Jacomé Plaza, La Placita Village, Pima County Administration Building and Courthouse, Leo Rich Theater, Tucson Convention Center Plaza and Church Street. Festival hours are Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The annual event has grown considerably. The festival is proud to debut the following special themes and new events: 

Kidlore: The Culture of Kids – activity area and educational hands-on programs focused on the traditions of children between the ages of  6 and 15 such as games, riddles, jokes, pranks, superstitions, rhymes and games played in the school playground; concerned with those activities which are learned and passed on by children to other children.

25th Anniversary AIDS Walk — (Sunday morning October 14, 2012) within perimeter of Tucson

Meet Yourself footprint in downtown Tucson, culminating in ritual unfolding of Quilt Panels (national and local) in partnership with Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF).

Symbols and Traditions of AIDS Activism –  exhibit of artifacts and mementos of the folk

community and folk practices that came together around the AIDS crisis starting in the early 1980s, one of the most complex epidemics in modern history (plus complimentary program of lectures, story circles, health prevention education booths, and select performances).

Quilts Making a Difference — mirroring the 2012 theme of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. “Creativity and Crisis,” exhibit and activity area including hands-on quilting demonstrations, sewing circles, and storytelling about quilts made to raise awareness about a range of social issues.

Lowrider Car Club “Dukes” 50th Anniversary — commemorative exhibit, story circles, and special events about the world’s oldest lowrider car club in continuous existence, with over 30 chapter all over the USA (including Tucson) as well as Australia and Japan.

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

Lowrider Car Show and Contest (organized by the Dukes Club Tucson) — complimented by live auto-parts and modifications demonstrations, story circles, and special events commemorating America’s automobile industry’s unique and authentic folk traditions. Other highlights include a “Chop Shop” garage, interviews with car owners, and “oldies” DJ music in the tradition of lowrider gatherings.

Pow Wow 101 — the first installment of TMY’s new statewide folk arts scope “Arizona Traditional Arts” introduces the public to everything they always wanted to know about a pow wow but were afraid to ask: the rules of comportment in this intertribal Native gathering, different styles of Northern and Summer drumming and singing, drum maker demonstration, sales of Native crafts, fancy and traditional dancers, and community dance where everyone is welcomed to join.

Traditions of Caribbean Music and Ritual — (three days of fun, festivities and educational workshops) A local celebration of the many strands and cultural objects and sounds of one of the world’s most exuberant celebrations, the annual Carnival from Trinidad. Authentically led by Tucsonans who hail from the island. Expanded in 2012 to include dress-making demonstrations,

Photograph courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself and Steven Meckler.

calypso, soca, and limbo demonstrations as well as hands-on workshops. Also featuring presentations over three days of other related Afro-Caribbean sounds and rituals, including Puerto Rican “bomba y plena,” Cuban Orisha chanting and drumming, and Jamaican reggae.

“Who wouldn’t enjoy Tucson Meet Yourself? Essentially, you can travel the world right here in Tucson,” says Jim Griffith, Tucson Meet Yourself cofounder. “You can watch world-class performers, find unique folk art and meet people from all corners of the globe. Many folks wait all year long for the home-cooked foods. Here, we come together to celebrate all kinds of communities and the traditions they carry on. The food and entertainment are the hooks; our goal is fundamentally educational.”

To learn more about  the Tucson Meet Yourself folklife festival, visit www.tucsonmeetyourself.org or contact Echo Surina at 602-332-9445 or echo@tucsonmeetyourself.org.

*To receive timely updates about the festival as it draws near, text “TMY2012” to 99000.