Tucson Meet Yourself
The 48th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival returns to downtown Tucson Oct. 8, 9, and 10, allowing the public to reconnect with its diverse and distinct cultures. As always, innovation and adaptation are emblematic of shifting traditions, and this year festival organizers have redesigned the event to prioritize the safety of artists, vendors, and the community at large.
Organized by the Southwest Folklife Alliance, this year's TMY will be held on Jácome Plaza and the surrounding blocks of Stone Avenue, Church Avenue, and Pennington Street. Casino del Sol is back this year as the festival’s title sponsor after taking a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic’s effect on its closure. Organizers have consulted city of Tucson and Pima County Health Department officials as well as Centers for Disease Control to plan an adaptive festival that mitigates risk associated with COVID-19. A 15-point set of COVID Guidelines is viewable (and regularly updated) on the TMY website.
Festival highlights for 2021 include:
- Over 50 performing groups sharing music and dance on only two stages set up with social distancing reminders. Performers include long-time TMY favorites such as Gertie N the T.O. Boyz, Seven Pipers Scottish Dancers & Tucson District Pipe Band, Odaiko Sonora Taiko Drumming, as well as Chinese dance and folk songs, Hawaiian hula dance, Argentine folk music, and the ceremonial Yaqui Deer Dancers.
- 30 food vendors representing over 20 cultural regions, including Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Poland, Egypt, Jamaica, as well as local Indigenous tribes. Rope walkways and signage will encourage and monitor social distance in the event of wait-lines. Take-out options and several reserved parking spots will be available for pick-up food only.
- 50 folk artists will share manual and visual arts. Artists will offer no hands-on activities for visitors this year and some will share work and process in a demonstration tent for short periods of time.
- The inaugural Arizona Ethnic & Traditional Dance Festival, presented by TMC Healthcare, on Thursday, Oct. 7, Tucson’s Fox Theatre. This event is ticketed (16 and under are free but must reserve tickets) and follows Fox Theatre COVID guidelines, which requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result for entry.
- A lowrider car craftmanship demonstration organized by Tucson’s Dukes Car Club, featuring 10 cars and ongoing demonstrations in how to trick out your own ride.
- Mariachi Pop-up Performance & filming of the Ugly Little Monkeys documentary finale. Join the final scene of a documentary film about Los Changuitos Feos, one of Tucson’s oldest and best-known youth mariachi groups, expanding opportunities for young people for over 50 years.
- TMY Corrido Contest, back by popular demand, celebrating the art of corridos, a musical genre and oral tradition from Mexico and the US-Mexico borderlands with running accounts of contemporary and historical events put to verse.
- A special Loss & Remembrance Tent that acknowledges grief and offers respite and support with special songs and dances of grief and healing from several festival performers, a Wall of Losses, a community jukebox, death doulas, and more.