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“40 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself” (exhibit)

Dates: September 9, 2013 - January 10, 2014

Location:   Special Collections

Contact: Bob Diaz


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 – 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 meeting notes, and photographs of performers, artisans and food vendors. 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.


Watch our 90 second exhibition preview video!

Related Lectures
Both lectures take place at Special Collections on the University of Arizona main campus and are free and open to the public.

40 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself: An Evening with Big Jim Griffith
September 12, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

A panel discussion about the early days of Tucson Meet Yourself featuring Dr. Jim Griffith, retired UA professor, former director of the Southwest Center & founder and former director of Tucson Meet Yourself. A panel of notable festival volunteers and friends – Dan Madden, Loma Griffith, Debbie Friesen, Fred Klein, Richard Morales and Gary Tenen – will also share stories and reminiscences of Tucson Meet Yourself from its earliest days and how it evolved into the largest folklife festival in the Southwest.

40 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself: Folklife and Culture
November 19, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Maribel Alvarez, Ph.D., research professor, UA Southwest Center & program director, Tucson Meet Yourself, shares stories of Tucson's folklife and culture.