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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


50th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself: A vibrant celebration for cultural diversity

Caroline Bailey
Members of the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers congratulate a young volunteer after teaching him a traditional dance on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival in Downtown Tucson. This internationally renowned dance company shares songs, stories and dances from Apache culture.

An intersection of many different cultures and seemingly endless festivities, the 50th annual Tucson Meet Yourself was held at Jácome Plaza from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15.

The three-day celebration invited many different performers and events, such as Czech & Slovak traditional music, an Aztec Chichimeca dance and band serenades.

The festivities began Oct. 13 and stretched from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The diverse nature of the events allowed people from all over to learn more about their own culture as well as learning about different ones. 

A variety of local artists presented their creations, with work ranging from Turkish Iznik Ceramics to Yaqui clay dolls to papel picado. Craft tables were dispersed around the area in which visitors were able to try their hand in creating their own versions of this art. 

With over 57 food vendors, visitors had access to a variety of cultural cuisines, including Japanese Takoyaki, Chinese Tea from Ni Hao Tea, O’odham fry bread and a Ukrainian bakery stand

The event was also an opportunity for local stores to put a spotlight on themselves and share what they had to offer. From small boutiques to family-owned shops, these local businesses added a unique dimension to the festival. 

Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo and Walter Trujillo, the owners of Barrio Books, an independently owned Tucson bookstore with a wide variety of literary books, were also running a stand on Friday. The shop’s books center on sharing Latinx voices through literature. This was their first time representing their store at Tucson Meet Yourself, yet they had been attending the festivities for many years. 

“It’s a Tucson staple so it is important to celebrate,” Arevalo-Trujillo said. 

The owners of Barrio Books also expressed their gratitude in being able to represent Latin culture at the event’s 50th celebration. A storefront for Barrio Books will be coming sometime in December. 

As the event coincided with the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the festival bore witness to a profound surge in Hispanic representation, particularly in the food. The event’s food showcased the rich and diverse flavors that are a cornerstone in Hispanic culture, with selections like Colombian arepas, Puerto Rican arroz con dulce and Dominican empanadas. 

Other aspects that helped shine a light on Hispanic culture was a Corridos performance by Celestino Fernandez on Saturday as well as a lowrider car show on Friday night. 

Tucson Meet Yourself is a celebration of the diverse and rich culture in Tucson. By celebrating and showcasing all these different traditions, the festivities  allowed guests to be brought together and embrace different cultures. Reaching the 50th anniversary mark showcases just how long this celebration has contributed to and engaged with the Tucson community.

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