Southern Arizona’s largest folklife festival is celebrating its 41st year this weekend.
Tucson Meet Yourself festival runs Friday through Sunday throughout downtown Tucson, attracting more than 100,000 people from throughout the region.
“There is so much to the event,” said the festival’s volunteer operations director Hilary Walker.
“From Jamaican cuisine, to Greek Orthodox clubs, to ritual performances by Spanish musicians … you can really choose from anything, and you don’t get that opportunity every day.”
The three-day festival focuses on cultural communities and their defining artistry through performances — 70 are scheduled — and folk artists — there are 90 expected to perform. But the biggest draw for most who attend is the food, which is why the festival is often nicknamed Tucson Eat Yourself.
This year, guests can expect to see more than 52 cultural food vendors and watch 32 kitchen demonstrations on multiple stages across the festival grounds.
It costs more than $300,000 to produce the festival each year, some of which is raised through sales at the festival. The bulk of the money comes from grants, sponsorships and other fundraising throughout the year, said Walker.
Admission is free, which volunteer Danie Allenspach said “is a great way to truly involve our entire Tucson community in the cultures and traditions that occupy our very own people.”
Groups participating in the festival raise money for their organizations through sales at the event. In 2012, the most recent number available, the festival brought in $250,000 for those groups, Walker said.
Tucson Meet Yourself gets underway at 11 a.m. Friday and runs through 6 p.m. Sunday.
“If you just want to get out there and enjoy some culture, this is the way to do it,” Walker said. “It’s an open space that creates a learning process as well as something you can enjoy and take back to your own family and friends.”
A calendar of scheduled performances can be found here.
[learn_more caption=”What you need to know” state=”open”]
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Downtown Tucson including El Presideo Park, Jacome Plaza, Penning St.
Cost: Admission is free. Details: www.tucsonmeetyourself.org [/learn_more]
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