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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tucson Meet Yourself back for another round

    Where can you find food, dance, folk art and an educational cultural immersion? Tucson, of course! October 8 – 10, a non-profit organization will host its 37th consecutive festival of cultural expression, Tucson Meet Yourself, in downtown Tucson.

    James Griffith, founder and research associate at the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona, founded the Tucson Meet Yourself festival in 1974. It all began when Griffith, along with his wife and a few close friends, noticed the beauty that existed amongst small groups in Tucson. 

    “”Whether this beauty was the music that the Tohono O’odham people play for dances, different types of food being prepared in homes, or whether it was the stories that people tell to help them stick together and coalesce,”” Griffith said, “”we realized that there was no culturally neutral place where these different kinds of beauty could be made available to the general public.””

    This changed when Griffith founded a festival that unified the city through culture, art and expression.

    Last year, the festival rounded up more than 75,000 people and this year about 100,000 are expected to visit, according to Mia Hansen, executive director of Tucson Meet Yourself.

    The event gathers performers, sponsors, volunteers and ethnic groups from all over the Arizona-Sonora region.

    Many groups that participate are with the university; some UA groups involved include the Vietnamese Student’s Association, Filipino American Student Association, and the Persian Club. According to Hansen, UA groups that have performed in the past include the UA’s pep band as well as dancers from the Sri Lankan student group.

    “”For some groups, it is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year,”” Hansen said.

    The event, held downtown in El Presidio Park, houses five main stages.

    “”People can see all sorts of different music and dance,”” Hansen said.  “”The festival has everything from Tohono O’odham Waila music, Pascua Yaqui Pascola dancers, to folkorico and even rhythm and blues.””

    The mission of Tucson Meet Yourself is in part to celebrate the ethnic traditions of the community. This festival, with its food, music, dance, storytelling, crafts and unifying premise unites the community with the culture and heritage of this southwestern region.

    “”It is a very vibrant festival with a lot of participation from (many) different community groups. … We really try to bring as many people as we can together,”” Hansen said.

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