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Tucson Hear Yourself

September 29, 2023
A photo of Gertie Lopez playing accordion. The words say 50 Years of Tucson Meet Yourself

In the weeks leading up to the 50th anniversary of Tucson Meet Yourself, KXCI has partnered with Southwest Folklife Alliance to present the short-form program Tucson Hear Yourself. Tucson Meet Yourself is an annual event in Downtown Tucson that celebrates the living traditional arts of diverse ethnic and folk communities from Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. The free, three-day festival features hundreds of artisans, home cooks, dancers, musicians, and special exhibits that celebrate and honor beauty in all its diverse, informal, and everyday forms. It was founded in 1974 by the renowned folklorist Jim Griffith and his wife Loma Griffith. The 50th edition of Tucson Meet Yourself happens October 13th, 14th, and 15th.

Festival performers, folk artists, food vendors, and organizers were interviewed in 2021 by Kayleigh Stack, then a doctoral student in Columbia University’s Oral History program. Interviews were edited by Kimi Eisele and mixed by Luis Carrión—music by Gertie Lopez. Tune in to Tucson Hear Yourself five days a week on 91.3 FM KXCI Tucson in the weeks preceding the Tucson Meet Yourself festival.

The Voices

A woman with fair skin and long, white hair pulled back, is wearing a light blue t-shirt and smiling at the camera.
Loma Griffith: The Early Years

Loma Griffith co-founded Tucson Meet Yourself with her husband, the late folklorist “Big Jim” Griffith. Here she reflects on the early years of the festival, when a congenial “family” feel and sense of trust helped the festival succeed and continue.


Cecille Muller: Finding Filipinos

Cecille Muller is the music director for the Philippine Mabuhay Cultural Foundation of Tucson, which performs music and dance of the Philippines every year at the festival. Here she remembers her first time at the festival and connecting with fellow Filipinos and others.



Chieko “Chi” Nakano: Passing on the Art of Origami

Chi Nakano has demonstrated origami in the festival Folk Arts area for over 20 years. Here she talks about learning the artform, her festival experience, and passing on the tradition.



Angela Roll: Is There Cumbia?

Angela Roll found Club Colombia to be an anchor for her Colombian roots. She shares stories the Club’s performing group and its well-loved empanadas.



Ajahnsarayut Arnanta: Practicing Generosity

Ajahnsarayut Arnanta is a Buddhist monk, originally from Thailand. Every year he prepares Thai food in the Wat Buddhametta food booth, the sales of which benefit the Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center and its community.


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