Big Jim: Tucson Meet Yourself, teaser 1

2013-10-04T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T10:48:27Z Big Jim: Tucson Meet Yourself, teaser 1Jim Griffith Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Meet Yourself is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 11-13. Festival hours for Friday and Saturday are 11 a.m. 'til 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. 'til 5:30 p.m. It’s held downtown in and around El Presidio Park. Admission is free.

It features the usual mix of traditional music, dance, folk arts, and food from Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora. However, no two editions of TMY are ever the same, so for the next three blogs I’ll be giving you hints on what to expect.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I am in no way a disinterested party: I helped start this thing in 1974, am heavily involved in it still, and serve on the board of directors.)

In the first place, our footprint has both contracted and expanded. We no longer take in the Convention Center area, but only extend to the County Buildings and the bridge over Congress. On the other hand, Pennington and Church Streets will be closed off and the festival will extend north of Granada to the area around the Tucson Museum of Art.

Pennington Street will be occupied by a whole new food category: American festival foods. That’s where you’ll find Philly cheese steaks, barbecue, Little League hot dogs, and roast corn. After all, these constitute a tradition as much as do pirogi, lefsa, and curry. The rest of the food booths selling foods from 30 distinct cultural traditions will be scattered through Jacome Plaza and El Presidio Park. Just as a teaser, there will be Peruvian food, Jamaican food, Chinese food, and of course popovers and Sonoran hot dogs! And at our Cultural Kitchen you can learn as well as taste..

The area between the Art Museum and Old Town Artisans will be given over to Low Riders for all the hours of the festival, with food, music, and demonstrations as well as cars and bikes.

There will be four stages — one in El Presidio Park, one on Church Street, one in Jacome Plaza, and one between the County buildings. This year we are grouping the performances by genre, so that on Friday, for instance, there will be various social dance traditions on Church Street from 4:30 'til 10 p.m., and a dance styles showcase in Jacome Plaza from 4:30 'til 7:30 p.m.

Also on Friday you can experience European music and dance, a Middle Eastern dance party and much, much more. I’ll be particularly eager to hear a festival first: traditional Ethiopian music on the City Hall Stage at 8 p.m. — I have no idea what it’s like!

Also new this year is a tent sponsored by the Chinese Cultural Center with historic photographs of Tucson’s Chinese community over the years. That’s another feature I’m really looking forward to.

For complete schedules and parking information, go to our website at

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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

If you have questions or suggestions for Jim Griffith or this blog, e-mail

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