University of Arizona

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40 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself

Tucson Meet Yourself, the largest free, three-day folklife festival in Arizona-Sonora, holds its 40th annual event this October. In celebration of this milestone, a new exhibition at UA Special Collections offers a retrospective review of the origins, traditions and celebrations that define the festival. “40 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself” is on display from Sept. 12, 2013 – Jan. 10, 2014 in Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

Tucson’s expressive culture, as experienced through the festival, is highlighted through posters, newspaper articles, programs, original documents such as meeting notes, photographs of performers, artisans and food vendors in the exhibition. Books about traditional folk arts and the colorful folkloric phenomenon offer insight into the academic study of folklore. Also included is a history of the festival’s annual corrido contest as well as a special profile of Big Jim Griffith, the festival’s founder.

The sounds of Tucson Meet Yourself are captured on a music kiosk featuring a selection of the many musical acts performed throughout the years. Originally recorded on reel to reel tapes, the files have been converted into a stable format for long-term preservation. A special addition to the exhibition is a banjo, an iconic instrument of the festival, on loan from Big Jim Griffith.

Curated from the Tucson Meet Yourself Archive in Special Collections, which documents the festival from its first year through 1995, the exhibit also includes select items borrowed from the festival headquarters which were recently relocated to the UA Downtown branch in the Roy Place building.

The festival draws more than 100,000 attendees to downtown Tucson in celebration of the living traditional arts and everyday expression of our multi-national regions’ folk and ethnic communities. This year's Tucson Meet Yourself runs from October 11-13, 2013.