Tucson Meet Yourself, 2017

Helpers and staff of Tucson’s Café Santa Rosa make Indian fry bread during the opening day of the 44th Tucson Meet Yourself. Café Santa Rosa, which specializes in Native American cuisine, “started at Tucson Meet Yourself,” said Maribel Alvarez, program director for Tucson Meet Yourself.

In October, comfort food tastes like jerk chicken and fry bread.

Because Tucson "Eat" Yourself is not canceled. And what could be more comforting than a beloved Tucson tradition that persisted despite all things 2020? 

Tucson's annual cultural festival Tucson Meet Yourself is returning this year — albeit without packing 150,000 people into downtown over one weekend. 

"I will miss the thing that I cannot have, which is 150,000 people crowding and accumulating and just a human energy that vibrates..." says Maribel Alvarez, Tucson Meet Yourself program director and folklorist. "I think that is irreplaceable, but we will adapt if we have to." 

And adapt they have. 

The newly reframed festival is offering both virtual and in-person festivities throughout October, including videos of traditional dancers and folk artists projected on walls around the city, online performances, a digital folk arts marketplace and of course, food. 

On Oct. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25, local food vendors will sell food to-go. Order, pay and then take your food home (or eat in your car). There will be no dining areas, and masks will be required. While you wait in line, pre-recorded Tucson Meet Yourself performances will be shown on large LED screens.

Usually, more than 60 food vendors participate in Tucson Meet Yourself. This year, expect about 20. Alvarez says the option to participate this year was offered to all of those past vendors, but not everyone was able.

"We feel we have a responsibility to the communities that we represent, that we serve, the artists, the food vendors," Alvarez says. "Tucson Meet Yourself is an economic engine of money for them. To shut (the festival) down completely would have been shutting them out." 

Showing up for Tucson "Eat" Yourself means more than a dash of normalcy. It's also a tasty way to support a small, local business. 

"We hope people will come out and give it a try and not cook for the weekend," Alvarez says.

If a weekend without cooking sounds good to you, here's where and when to get your Tucson Meet Yourself food fix. 

Food vendors for Oct. 10-11

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Where: Mercado San Agustin, 125 S. Avenida del Convento

Food vendors for Oct. 17-18

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Where: Café Santa Rosa, 2615 S. Sixth Ave

Food vendors for Oct. 24-25

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Where: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1145 E. Fort Lowell Road

• FruitShack Smoothies

For more information about the 2020 festival, visit tucsonmeetyourself.org

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