Tucson Meet Yourself Tapestry

October 8, 2012 |

Prepare to meet, eat and dance yourself silly

Relish that Cubano sandwich quickly, because it’s almost time for foot-tapping and the waila band. Head over to the courtyard to admire that Hopi carver, but save a minute to talk shop with the lowriders and get a mehndi tattoo. Swim back into El Presidio crowds, because next you’re ready for fry bread and folklorico.

It’s coming, this scenario of incessant Tucson folk life that you’ve dreamed about since last year. Whatever traditional performer, art or food you crave, the 39th annual iteration of Tucson Meet Yourself (TMY), scheduled for Friday, October 12 through Sunday October 14, certainly will have it all.

Tucson’s largest and most jubilant street festival is rolling back into 60 acres of downtown – combining cultural magic with a procession of ethnic pageantry that will start in Jácome Plaza, wind across Church Avenue into El Presidio Park, continue across the bridge through La Placita Village, rumble past Eckbo Fountains and finally fill TCC Plaza.  As in previous years, this cultural pulse on Tucson’s diversified communities will be a free and authentic folk life experience, an educational platform that also serves up fun and a thoughtful mélange of tradition for the crowds.

Themed “Live your story, share your world,” this year’s TMY transforms downtown into its own city of cultural self-expression, featuring more than 180 traditional artists and 45 ethnic and occupational groups. “Whether you come for the music, the food or the folk arts, there’s something for everyone at this participatory multi-cultural celebration,“ says Dr. Maribel Alvarez, folklorist and TMY’s Program Director who also is UA Associate Research Social Scientist/Research Professor. “Tucson Meet Yourself invites a dialogue between our city and our cultures, and in a festive way pays homage to the traditional, living arts of the folk groups who reside here.”

What’s New
Attendees should watch for surprises and unique happenings throughout this year’s event. Some highlights:

  • Cultural Kitchen: Start your tradition-happy TMY fun with a meander through the Cultural Kitchen, a new Pavilion in Jácome Plaza where there will be hands-on activities and demonstrations from local farmers, ranchers, heritage food artists, chefs and gardeners who support local food economy.
  • Kidlore: If you’re looking for what’s kid-inspired  and family-friendly, caravan over to TCC where Kidlore: The Culture of Kids will offer a heritage-rich playground and activity area focused on the rhymes and traditions of play, such as games, riddles, jokes and rituals enjoyed by children between the ages of  6 and 15.
  • Lowriders: This “Show and Shine” along Church between Alameda & Pennington will be TMY’s tribute to lowriders, a mix of hot rod fever and fun presented in conjunction with the world’s oldest lowrider car club, the Dukes. Cash prizes and trophies will complement a “Chop Shop” garage, storytelling with car owners, and “oldies” DJ music in the tradition of lowrider gatherings.
  • AIDS Walk: In this 25th anniversary year of the AIDS WALK nationally, TMY will add a dimension and reflect on the traditions of AIDS activism (including the Red Ribbon and the NAMES Quilt Project) through exhibits, talking stages, a guest lecture by the foremost expert on AIDS lore and inclusion of the Tucson AIDS walk in TMY’s Sunday Festival footprint. The Tucson AIDS Walk will begin on Sunday morning, October 14, at Jacome Plaza, and traverse the Festival, culminating with the ritual unfolding and display of 10 national and 10 local NAMES Quilt panels.
  • Pow Wow: Extending out from the Festival this year in a coming-together of native tradition will be the first installment of TMY’s new statewide folk arts scope “Arizona Traditional Arts.” Through a fun and meaningful exchange, Pow Wow 101 in Jácome Plaza will introduce this intertribal Native gathering to the public, offering drumming and singing, drum maker demonstration, sales of Native crafts, fancy and traditional dancers and community dance.
  • Caribbean Tradition: An authentic interpretation of Trinidad’s annual Carnival will be ongoing throughout TMY, with performances, dress-making and limbo demonstrations, arts and calypso bumping shoulders with attendees.

Old Favorites Return
As always, attendees will be able to feast on the works of veteran participants, some appearing at TMY for decades. These artisans will explain as well as serve-up cultural heritage through performance, folk arts or foods. In addition, a TMY Marketplace will be located in the Folk Arts Courtyard, providing festival-goers an opportunity to take home unique arts not found elsewhere. This pleasingly old-fashioned bazaar, styled in the tradition of the Mercado, will be quaint and Tucson-eclectic all in one, offering curated and out-of-the-ordinary books, CDs and handmade gifts.

To keep the poets among us spellbound and engaged, there will be Gran Concurso de Corridos that will lavish senses with ballads. Enjoy the love songs or enter yourself for cash prizes. This year’s corridos can be heard October 13, 3pm, in El Presidio Park.

Watch for entry areas at TCC, Jacome Plaza and El Presidio, where volunteers will distribute programs, passports for kids and offer directions. Once inside, more teams will be patrolling to keep the Festival area clean and green. You’ll also find information booths (check map for locations) where more volunteers will help festival goers get cozy with updates and merriment.

Dr. Alvarez underscores the context of scholarly research and extensive relationship-building within the region that have led up to the festival. “It all demonstrates how our cultures knit together in some way,” she says. “Tucson Meet Yourself was conceived and has always tried to exist as an educational experience, opening windows onto all different cultures that coexist in this region.”

“Of course it’s all about fun, too,” the professor adds with a grin.
TMY Fast Facts

  • TMY has been held each year in Downtown Tucson, Arizona since 1974.
  • TMY was founded by University of Arizona folklorist and anthropologist Dr. James “Big Jim” Griffith, who in 2011 was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with a prestigious recognition as a “National Heritage” treasure.
  • TMY funnels the revenue generated at the festival directly back into the local economy. In 2011, participating ethnic clubs and nonprofit associations raised collectively $250,000 through their sales at the festival.
  • TMY presents the Festival in collaboration with sponsors including Arizona Bilingual Magazine/Learning A-Z, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Arts, The City of Tucson, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Pepsi, Pima County, Pima Dermatology, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, Southwestern Center at the University of Arizona, State Department Western Passport Center and Tucson Pima Arts Council.
  • You can set up a schedule on your mobile. Go online to TucsonMeetYourself.org for additional information, or to create a customized route.

Category: Arts, Community, DOWNTOWN / UNIVERSITY / 4TH AVE, Entertainment, MUSIC