Hello, Home Cooking
A small world of gastronomy (plus ethnic music, dance and more) fills Tucson's Presidio District each October.
Tucson Meet Yourself
El Presidio Park — October 12-14, 2018
When Tucson Meet Yourself started in 1974, words like “multicultural” and “diversity” were barely entering the American vocabulary. Yet, in Southern Arizona, a group of forward-thinking people, led by a young University of Arizona anthropologist named Jim Griffith, was quietly celebrating and honoring the folkways and religious expressions of this borderland region.
After more than four decades, Tucson Meet Yourself is an annual tribute to the living traditional arts of Southern Arizona's and Northern Mexico's diverse ethnic and folk communities. For three days every October, hundreds of artisans, home cooks, dancers, musicians and special exhibits celebrate beauty in all its diverse, informal and everyday forms.
AZ Illustrated Video: Tucson Meet Yourself
Tucson's Great Outdoor Food Court
Locals vote Tucson Meet Yourself as one of their 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 small ethnic businesses and sole proprietors. No commercial chains or national food operators are allowed: only local Tucson-based food entrepreneurs. To help you enjoy it all, here are some insider tips:
7 Tips for Enjoying Tucson Meet Yourself
- Check the website (TucsonMeetYourself.org). The 3-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 3 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?
Tucson Meet Yourself is admission-free and alcohol-free and takes place every October beneath the mosaic dome of historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson’s Presidio District.
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