Today is Sept 9th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”. This week we discuss the weight problem of Tucson Meet Yourself and a new El Tour de Tucson team with 130 matching bikes.
According to the Tucson Daily Citizen, Saturday, October 5th, 1974 was the setting for a sort of international Ed Sullivan Show, with anthropologist and banjoist, Jim Griffith serving as talent coordinator and master of ceremonies.
That 2-day folk fest was a product of the Tucson Culture Exchange council and designed to celebrate the diversity of Tucson and the world. From the beginning, Tucson Meet Yourself has been a curious mix of tastes, smells, sights, and sounds. Punctuated with colorful costumes, exotic foods, and unique music.
44 Years later the tradition lives on. In fact, the festival, now under the Southwest Folklife Alliance, has become a premier destination event attracting close to 150,000 people to downtown. The success of Tucson Meet Yourself has created a structural problem for El Presidio Park, the traditional site of the event. Under El Presidio is a parking garage and engineers have become concerned with the weight of the event posing a threat to the structural integrity of the facility and potentially creating a dangerous environment.
Concerned that Tucson Meet Yourself had become a victim of its own success and might be too large to continue, organizers worked feverishly with the City of Tucson and the Downtown Tucson Partnership to find an alternative location.
We sat down with Jessica Escobedo who has been involved with TMY since a young age. Her father, Tim, has been the Festival’s Operation Director and enlisted his family as volunteers. Jessica has grown in the role and now oversees from a staff position, the recruitment and training of all the 700 TMY volunteers.
Jessica shared the diversity, the history and the new footprint of Tucson Meet Yourself.