Most of my blogs between now and October 11 will at least mention a festival called Tucson Meet Yourself. Here’s why:
Tucson Meet Yourself has been described as a celebration of the richness and diversity of the living traditional arts of the folk and ethnic communities of our region. In translation, that means that we invite traditional artists, craftspeople, singers, musicians, dancers, and cooks from as many as possible of the components of our complex society, and let it all happen. Or as one friend put it, it’s the only occasion in the year at which one can watch a Ukrainian Easter egg decorator, eat a Vietnamese egg roll, and listen to a Tohono O’odham polka band, all at the same time!
When I started this blog, the folks I had most in mind were the recent arrivals who might not have an easy way to learn about the people, customs, and stories of this region. I know it’s read by many seasoned Tucsonans as well, and I’ve learned a lot from your comments and letters. But my main objective was letting the new folks know what an exciting place they had moved to.
And a weekend at Tucson Meet Yourself is a wonderful way in which to see, hear, taste, and learn about our exciting mix of cultures. The wonderful thing about this festival is that it isn’t just a show. The invited participants are eager to discuss who they are, what they do, and why they do it. So there will not only be booths selling ethnic foods, but also a kitchen demonstration area where people from different cultures will show you how they prepare certain dishes, putting them into the context of their lives.
You’ll have the opportunity to talk with a lot of exciting folk artists who will be happy to explain, not just the “hows,” but also some of the “whys” of what they do. The Low Rider community is making a special effort to present itself to the public, as are the Yaqui, Tohono O’odham, and other communities. And all these folks are eager to help you learn about who they are and how they create their own particular kinds of beauty.
The festival has been going on for forty years now, and is designed to be interesting, educational, and fun. It will happen downtown on October 11-13, and admission is free. And you’ll be reading a lot more about it as the intervening days and weeks unfold.