Big Jim: El Día de San Juan in Southern Arizona

2013-06-18T00:00:00Z 2013-07-11T11:52:19Z Big Jim: El Día de San Juan in Southern ArizonaJim Griffith Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There are two public celebrations of el Día de San Juan in our region, each quite different from the other.

On Monday, June 24, San Juan will be honored with a large fiesta at 10 S. Avenida del Convento, just off Congress Street, west of the Santa Cruz River. Admission and parking are free. The event starts at 5 p.m., with a procession and blessing of the water.

Then things get more active, with stage performances of Mariachi music, folklórico dancing and an escaramusa demonstration. Escaramuzas are Mexican-style women’s drill teams, and if you've never seen these young ladies doing “thread the needle” riding sidesaddle at a full gallop, you’ve got something new, exciting and beautiful awaiting you.

There will be food and craft booths, games for kids and dancing in the evening to music supplied by a local barrio DJ. In its mix of the sacred and secular, its opportunities to see old friends and meet new ones and its rich variety of foods, this is a very traditional Mexican fiesta. For more information, call 861-4504 or 791-0925.

The other San Juan celebration is very different. It is sponsored by Native Seeds/SEARCH at their conservation farm in Patagonia. Native Seeds/SEARCH, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving local and regional crops, and getting the seeds back to the communities from which they came and to anyone else who will grow them out. I’ll do a blog on them one of these days – they are a truly wonderful outfit.

Their San Juan’s Day celebration starts at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 23, with a sung native blessing and continues with a potluck and campfire. You are urged to bring some sort of traditional dish. (It always helps if the dish is full of food!) There is no admission, but those attending will be urged to join Native Seeds/SEARCH. Fair enough. For information and directions, call 622-0830. Have a wonderful, wet Día de San Juan!

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About this blog

Jim Griffith is the former director of the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona, and co-founder of Tucson Meet Yourself. He’s also the author of seven books on the folklore and folklife of our region, most recently “A Border Runs Through It.” His books can be purchased at tucson.com/wildcatgear.

If you have questions or suggestions for Jim Griffith or this blog, e-mail bigjimgriffith@gmail.com