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49th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival

October 8, 2022 @ 8:00 am - October 10, 2022 @ 5:00 pm MST

49th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival Brings Food, Performance, and Folk Art to Downtown Tucson & Does Away with Single-Use Plastic Bottles

TUCSON, AZ – The 49th Annual Tucson Meet Yourself (TMY) Folklife Festival returns to downtown Tucson with food, performance, and folk arts from over 60 cultural traditions. This year’s festival remembers co-founder James “Big Jim” Griffith, who died in December 2021. The festival also deepens its commitment to environmental sustainability this year, doing away with the sale of single-use plastic bottles and bringing back composting of food waste.

Organized by the Southwest Folklife Alliance, and presented by title sponsor Rio Nuevo, TMY will be held on Jácome Plaza and the surrounding blocks Church Avenue and Pennington Street on October 7, 8, and 9. Rio Nuevo is joined by more than a dozen presenting sponsors, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arizona Commission for the Arts, Tucson Medical Center, Casino del Sol, Pima County, and City of Tucson. The University of Arizona plays a prominent role as the academic hub for research about the festival and its significance for a sense of inclusion and belonging since 1974.

Festival highlights for 2022 include:

1. Altar to Jim Griffith: Remembering TMY’s co-founder: James “Big Jim” Griffith co- founded TMY with his wife Loma in 1974. Jim attended the festival every year, gracing its stages with his wisdom, charm, enthusiasm, and his singing and banjo-playing! With a PhD in cultural anthropology and art history from the University of Arizona, Jim was well-equipped to study the cultures of the region. But it was his respectful demeanor and humility that helped him connect to others in order to learn about their traditions and practices. We honor his spirit and legacy with a special altar/shrine built by José Duran and Vanda Pollard. Visitors can add something to the altar or choose one of his many books (by donation) to take home. A special commemorative “Big Jim” t-shirt designed by renowned Tucson muralist and illustrator Jessica Gonzalez will be available for sale.

2. Greening the Festival: The festival ends its sale of single-use plastic bottles, long a revenue source. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles or get a special TMY bottle from Klean Kanteen ($20), which they can fill up for free at water stations. TMY also teams up with the University of Arizona’s Compost Cats again to compost festival food waste. In past years, 35% of festival food waste was diverted from the landfill and helped create compost for local agriculture. As always, all aluminum cans deposited in proper recycling bins will be recycled by the City of Tucson. This year in partnership with Grecyle, TMY will collect all vendors’ used cooking oil to be recycled into biofuel diesel

3. Performance: This year, more than 60 performing groups share music and dance on three stages and two interactive tents. Enjoy annual favorites like Gertie N the TO Boyz and music of the Tohono O’odham people, Lajkonik Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, and General Tchefary’s high energy reggae roots sounds, along with belly dancing, hula traditions, bluegrass music, mariachi, Brazilian dance and drumming, and so much more. Stages sponsored by Rio Nuevo, COX, and the University of Arizona.

4. Food: Nearly 50 food booths representing over 25 cultures and ethnicities, with long-time favorites like Club Colombia, Japanese Takoyaki Balls, and Turkish food from the Sema Foundation, along with new offerings this year including Persian food, Taiwanese-style fried chicken, BBQ & Beats, Ukrainian, and traditional Afghani food.

5. Folk Arts: The heart of the festival’s color and beauty, with over 50 artists demonstrating their artforms, including the Tohono O’odham and Yaqui/Yoeme Pavilions showcasing work by Indigenous artists.

6. Wellness/Movement Tent (Sponsored by TMC Health): A new space this year celebrates dance, movement arts, and wellness with interactive demonstrations, workshops, and performances across cultures.

7. Memory Tent: Songs of Love & Aging: Following the warm reception by the public of last year’s Loss and Remembrance Tent, this year’s Memory Tent honors the way music and music-making traditions keep us connected across time and generations. With an exhibit and activities that explore how music helps us express love, strengthen bonds within families, and remember those we’ve lost; as well as keep our brains healthy as we age and reconnect with lost memories. Featuring performances, conversations, and sing-alongs; research findings on the role of music in alleviating dementia; videos celebrating community serenatas/serenades; a public jukebox; a “Memory Chair” where visitors can share their memories and love songs, and much more. Produced in partnership with University of Arizona ethnomusicologist Dr. Jennie Guber with research funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Global Brain Health Institute and the Innovations and Healthy Aging Strategic Initiative from the University of Arizona Health Sciences division.

8. Dukes Car Club Low-rider Car Show & Demonstration: The Dukes Car Club of Tucson presents a collection of lowrider cars plus demonstrations on how to trick out your own car, exemplifying this long-standing, west-coast tradition of “embellishing the ordinary.” The “Low and Slow” showcase is presented this year by D2+ Dispensary. The Dukes are the oldest lowrider car club in the United States, specializing in pre-1960s Chevrolets. The Tucson Chapter has been in partnership with TMY for more than 25 years.

9. AIDS Walk 2022: For the ninth year, TMY partners with the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) to hold the AIDSWALK on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 9. The organizations share festival infrastructure, including stages, equipment, and porta-potties to create savings for both organizations. Throughout the festival, SAAF shares information about its organization, offering services for people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS and providing information and skill-building programs to help others prevent further infection. On Sunday morning, as the walk ends, SAAF shares the ritual unfolding of quilt panels from the NAMES PROJECT (the largest folklore project in the world), made to honor local people lost to the virus.

10. Accessibility. TMY has made significant strides in improving festival accessibility for all visitors. Wheelchair rentals will be available through the Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports tent; wheelchair-only spaces will be available at all stages; and improved pathways throughout the festival include mats over gravel pathways and accessible ramps over electrical wire boxes; printed materials such as the festival program are available as PDFs for use with a screen reader are available upon request.

Festival Program Director Maribel Alvarez says this year’s festival represents a special time to remember co-founder Jim Griffith and to both honor and shift long-standing traditions.

“As always, it is the relationships across cultures and communities that make this festival what it is. This year we are so sad to not have our mentor, Jim Griffith, with us, but we carry on his vision with humility and respect. We’re proud, also, to look at where traditions and practices can change for the benefit of the many cultures we serve and on behalf of the planet that sustains us. It’s been a long-time effort to find a way to replace single-use plastic bottles and we’re very proud to turn the boat of this festival into cleaner, more sustainable waters. We hope TMY can be a model in this way for other events, in Tucson and beyond,” Alvarez said.

Menus, performance schedules, hours, and other information at

Tucson Meet Yourself is produced by the Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA), an affiliate non-profit organization of the University of Arizona, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. We are the designated Folk Arts Partner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts with the support of the National Endowment of the Arts. Its mission is to build more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage, and diversity rooted in the Greater Southwest and U.S. Mexico Border Corridor. Nationally, SFA amplifies models and methods of meaningful cultural work that center traditional knowledge, social equity, and collaboration.


October 8, 2022 @ 8:00 am MST
October 10, 2022 @ 5:00 pm MST
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Tucson Meet Yourself
(520) 621-4046
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Downtown Tucson
N. Stone Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701 United States
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