The Entertainment Magazine Calendar of Events covers local entertainment happenings. Submit free event listings to the Community Calendar for consideration: [email protected].

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival 2017

October 13, 2017 @ 11:00 am - October 15, 2017 @ 10:00 pm MST

The 44th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival Brings Nationally Renowned Performers to Tucson. Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival is known as a “hometown” celebration of Tucson’s best eats and folk performers and artists. This year a handful of celebrated performers from elsewhere bring new energy to the 44-year-old festival.

The three-day free festival in downtown Tucson, October 13, 14, and 15 is perhaps best known for its food, made by Tucsonans representing more than 50 distinct ethnicities and cultural affiliations. Indeed it is often the takoyaki, Polish sausage, Thai iced tea, and churros (to name just a few dishes) that draw audiences to the Festival. But organizers say it’s the culture—the living traditions of ordinary Tucsonans who dance, sing, make things, demonstrate, talk, and people-watch—that keeps them there.

This year, the first time that the festival enlists a Title Sponsor (Casino del Sol Resort), TMY is also launching a Visiting Performer Series, bringing to Tucson masters of national and international reputation in the heritage and traditional arts. In addition to delighting audiences, these guest artists will also offer workshops and teaching/jam sessions to local cultural performers and groups.

“Visiting artists bring knowledge that might otherwise be inaccessible for local groups. These kinds of connections are part of how heritage and culture are transmitted,” said Maribel Alvarez, executive director of the Festival and professor of folklore and anthropology at the University of Arizona.

This year’s headliners include:

· Phil Wiggins’ House Party, featuring Phil Wiggins, a master of acoustic harmonica in the Piedmont blues tradition and an NEA National Heritage Fellow. Included in Wiggins’ traveling group is Junious Brickhouse, a dancer/choreographer of urban dance forms, including house, jack, and funk styles.

· Julia Gutiérrez-Rivera, premiere dancer of Bomba y Plena, a traditional Puerto Rican dance form, and daughter of National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutiérrez, founder/director of Los Pleneros de la 21.

· Sonora Lírico, a lyrical opera quartet from Hermosillo, Mexico offering an homage to famous Mexican balladeer Juan Gabriel.

· Lone Piñon, an acoustic trio from Northern New Mexico reviving Chicano stringband styles such as polka, chote, huapango, and classic borderlands conjunto.

Phil Wiggins and Julia Guitiérrez-Rivera will offer free workshops open to the public prior to the Festival. Junious Brickhouse will also offer a dance class to University of Arizona students enrolled in an Introduction to Hip Hop course through Africana Studies.

Dozens of favorite local performers return to the festival this year, including Gertie ‘N’ the TO Boyz waila band, Lajkonik traditional Polish dance troupe, and Yaqui deer dancers. In total, 100 groups will perform on 3 stages over 3 days. A total 15% of the entire festival budget is paid in honoraria to artists.

The full 3-day schedule can be viewed here:

Additional Festival Highlights for 2017

1) This year the Loft Cinema offers free family-friendly films on Festival grounds. For both films—The Eagle Huntress and Moana—relevant scholars will offer introductions and context.

2) The Festival’s live food demo stage, the Culture Kitchen, returns this year with an “around the world” theme, featuring lectures and demonstrations on cuisine from Bolivia Honduras, Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, Somalia, and Syria. The Kitchen Stadium full 3-day schedule can be seen here:

3) A special Exhibit entitled Master’s of Traditional Arts features immersive exhibits allowing visitors to observe and experience traditional art forms of the region. The exhibit will feature 10 master artists who live and work in Arizona. All are recipients of the Southwest Folklife Alliance’s annual Master-Apprentice Artist Award. The Southwest Folklife Alliance is the parent nonprofit organization affiliated with the UA that produces TMY.

Artists “on exhibit” include: Rod Ambrose, African American storyteller; Carmen Baron, Baile Folklorico costume maker; Ron Carlos, Salt River Maricopa traditional potter; Zarco Guerrero, woodcarver/maskmaker; Mari Kaneta, traditional Japanese dancer; Kevin Lau, Chinese Lion dancer; Gerard Lomaventema, Hopi overlay jeweler; Felipe Molina, Yaqui ethnobiologist and traditional storyteller; Reuben Naranjo, Tohono O’odham potter; Peter Rolland, Old Time fiddler. Additionally, apprentices working with master artists will share aspects of their learning process on a talking stage.

Exhibit curator Leia Maahs said the TMY exhibit has some special surprises:

“In the true spirit of TMY, the exhibit will expose Tucsonans to nuances and details of art-making that go beyond what is commonly known; among the treats to look forward to are a collection of Hello Kitty in Kimonos beside original scores of AZ Old Time Musicians beside a living/breathing carved Aztec Huelhuetl drum. All of these artifacts—and artists—will be together under one big tent, letting the public see how their work connects us to everyday life with reverence, skill, and beauty,” said Maahs who is also the SFA program manager.

4) On Friday and Saturday nights, young poet performers from the Tucson-based youth-centered arts and community engagement organization Spoken Futures will express “words and dreams, applause and screams” in the Pima County Pavillion (Jacome Library Plaza).

Food Vendors: New in 2017

• Patricia’s Cuban Cuisine: Offering the Cuban specialty dish “Ropa Vieja,” stewed meat and vegetables, with black beans and plantain chips (chicharritas); empanadas filled with ground beef; tuna croquettes. For dessert: Cuban shortbread cookies (polvorones) and individual guava pies. Contact: Patricia, 520.861.4966, [email protected]

• First time to the Festival, the Hungry Kepuha brings food from Guam, including chicken, rib, and combo plates. Meats are marinated in a sweet-tangy marinade then grilled. Other foods include Chamorro red rice, flavored and colored with achotte; Chicken kelaguen, a ceviche-like dish flavored with lemon, onions, coconut, and peppers; cucumber salad; and finadene, a Chamorro style sauce made with soy sauce and peppers. Drinks include popular Guam teas: King Car Lemon Tea, Assam Milk Tea, and Assam Black Tea.Contact: Anthony: (520) 981-1636, [email protected] OR Anthony Ooka: (520) 981-1712, [email protected] ;

• Sons of Italy: Returning to the Festival after a decade away, Sons of Italy encourages the study of Italian language and culture in American schools and Universities, preserving Italian-American tradition, culture, history and heritage. Its booth will offer meatball subs, canoli, pizzelle, biscotti, Italian ice, Spumoni ice cream alcohol-free lemon-cello, and homemade Italian soda. Contact: John Iannucci, (708) 805-3773, [email protected] OR Matt Perri, (520) 624-9145, [email protected]

• Café Francais Restaurant and Bakery. This authentic French Bakery has been in business for 5 years in Plaza Palomino and 12 years at Le Delice on Tanque Verde. They will offer sandwiches made with their French bread, quiches, croissants, Danishes, and empanadas. Contact: Nicole Cochard, 520.326.1155, [email protected]

TMY: Interesting Factoids

· 100,000 to 120,000 people in attendance (triangulated based on total waste collected, police estimate, and square feet density formula every 3 hours)

· 100 performance acts booked on 3 stages

· 100 Folk Artists (50% from Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui nations)

· 58 food vendors

· 80 community agencies sharing information or selling products

· Cost of the event: $316,000

· Number of Sponsors who make FREE event possible: 27

· Highest reported sales of a food booth over 3 days: $10,000

· $3.5M spiraling impact of TMY in the local economy

· $114,000 (money withdrawn in 2016 from private company ATMs placed in the event)

· Unique visits to TMY website the week of the festival: 32,000

· 5,280 lbs of food waste generated at TMY turned into compost (2016)

· 33% diversion rate from landfill achieved in 2016

· 750 volunteers

· 25 seasonal staff

· 19,000 Facebook likes

· 2,000: total number of feedback surveys collected among atendees since 2012

· 6,000: # of people who visited exhibit about Tucson UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2016

If you go:

When: October 13, 14, & 15, 2017

TIMES: Friday and Saturday, 11am to 10pm; (Recess on performance stages on Friday from 2-4pm); Sunday 11am to 6pm

Where: Downtown Tucson – Downtown Public Library and Jacomé Plaza & El Presidio Park

Cost: Free. Donations gladly accepted.

More info:


October 13, 2017 @ 11:00 am
October 15, 2017 @ 10:00 pm
Event Categories:
, , , , ,
Event Tags:


Tucson Meet Yourself


Downtown Tucson
Pennington Street
Tucson, AZ United States
+ Google Map

The Community Events Calendar is sponsored by The Entertainment Magazine.
Post Free Events. Include your event description, location, dates and times and contact information. Email to [email protected].

USA Event Calendars:
Arizona | California | Nevada | New Mexico | New York | Phoenix | Tombstone | Tucson | Tucson Gem Shows | Mt. Lemmon/Summerhaven

©2019 The Entertainment Magazine and BZB Publishing, LLC, U.S.A. All rights reserved. Home site: