Hello, Home Cooking
A small world of gastronomy (plus music, dance, and arts) fills downtown Tucson every October.
Tucson Meet Yourself
When Tucson Meet Yourself started in 1974, words like “multicultural” and “diversity” were barely entering the American vocabulary. Yet in Southern Arizona some forward-thinking people, led by a young University of Arizona anthropologist named Jim Griffith, were quietly celebrating the living traditional arts of the Sonoran borderland region's ethnic and folk communities.
More than four decades later, this annual gathering has grown into a three-day, open-air block party with hundreds of home cooks, artisans, dancers, musicians, and exhibitors participating. Still admission-free and alcohol-free, the event is staged on the grounds in and around Jacome Plaza-Main Library in downtown Tucson.
AZ Illustrated Video: Tucson Meet Yourself
Tucson's Great Outdoor Food Court
Tucson Meet Yourself is one of the Old Pueblo's best-loved and most-anticipated traditions. Insiders call it Tucson Eat Yourself because of its affordable "small world" of gastronomy. The food variety is staggering: In 2017, 58 food vendors participated. Half of them nonprofit cultural clubs, churches, and temples. The other half are small ethnic businesses and sole proprietors. No commercial chains or national food operators are allowed; only local Tucson-based food entrepreneurs.
7 Tips for Enjoying Tucson Meet Yourself
- Check the website (TucsonMeetYourself.org). The three-day program can be downloaded in advance. A section on the site called “How to Festival” is full of helpful pointers and updates.
- Use public transportation; the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar exit's at Congress Street and Stone Avenue, both are short distances from the festival.
- Don’t stay only in one area. Besides trying the food, roam and explore as many areas of the festival as you can. There are three stages of music and dance, one stage of food stories and demonstrations, a large interpretative exhibit, several Folk Arts Pavilions, a Car Show, and dozens of nonprofits and local businesses sharing information in the Community Matters area.
- Friday and Saturday nights are crowded: The atmosphere is festive and social dancing on the street is common. Friday is the least-busy day.
- Make a donation at one of the many entry ways. Donations boxes or pass-the-bucket appeals at the stages. The festival is free, but production expenses are high.
- Pace yourself. Try many different types of food. Ask the cooks for information about the dish you are buying. The majority of the food booths are run by home-cooks and non-profit clubs; they welcome your interest. Many stage the cook preparation as an educational opportunity (for example, the Spanish Club cooks a large “paella” on site). All dishes are capped under $10, many are small and inexpensive.
- Bring cash. There are ATMs, but why not come prepared?
No commercial chains or national food operators are allowed: only local Tucson-based food entrepreneurs.