TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The 48th annual Tucson Meet Yourself Festival kicked off today: sixty nationalities all merged into a couple of blocks in western Tucson.
"What is really happening is a story of cultural diversity of education of people learning about each other of celebrating the civic culture and democracy of the city,” said Maribel Alvarez, Director for Tucson Meet Yourself.
The festival began in 1974 and has continued every year since. Its goal: to recognize and share the beauty of humankind.
“We all join together in one big family of all different cultures so we can share our medicine, share our teachings, share our love especially,” said Wind Raven with the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe.
Festivities were mostly virtual last year because of COVID. This year, the event was scaled down by around 50%, but still had 100% of the cultural experience.
“Here it's a public setting where you can make friends, experiment a food that you never knew was of your liking or a type of music," Alvarez said. "I learned to appreciate music from the Balkans.”
It’s a foodie heaven; 35 vendors representing countries from all over the world. Tucsonans in the Turkish Cultural Center come every year to serve their food.
“If you move to the United States, second generations almost losing all the cultures and the language," said Mustafa Kilcak, with the Turkish Cultural Center. "It's pretty good to serve your own cultures and then keep them alive, so that’s the biggest thing.”
Turkish coffee, authentic arepas, and Hawaiian shaved ice, all within a few yards of each other.
"That’s also I think what makes America great: diversity,” Kilcak said.
Fifty folk artists also came in from near and far to share a part of themselves with Tucson. The festival is near the Pima County Public Library and will be there throughout the weekend. Anyone can stop by from 11a.m. to 9p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Or from 11a.m. to 5p.m. on Sunday.
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