TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson’s premier celebration of cultural identity begins tomorrow with the kickoff of the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival.
“I’m excited to be back, we have some great desserts,” said Patricia Espinosa, a Cuban native who will be serving several Cuban dishes from her booth. “There aren’t any Cuban restaurants in Tucson, and people really react very well to the Cuban food.”
She is one of more than 50 vendors from across the area who will be showcasing their native country’s cuisine for the 45th annual Tucson Meet Yourself. Cooks and vendors from Thailand, the Philippines, Mexico, and other foodies will showcase Tucson’s diverse gastronomical and cultural heritage.
“One of the things about Tucson Meet Yourself that is so amazing is the way that people really own it, like it’s their event,” said Maribel Alvarez, the festival director.
Vendors, artists and entertainers come from around the world to experience the event, which draws more than 100,000 people to the downtown area every year.
The gathering was moved to Jacome Square this year from its traditional location up the street at Presidio Park.
“It’s actually a slightly smaller space but will feel bigger because we have taken over city blocks,” said Kimi Eisele, Communications Director for the festival.
“It is one of the years where we are excited about the new footprint. It feels in a lot of ways more unified. Vendors are excited, we’re a big family here,” said Alvarez.
The move will mean some traffic changes and road closures.
Organizers say the melding of food, fun, and culture can help people learn about the world around them, and those who are in it.
“Tucson is a really special place, the diversity of cultures,” says Alvarez. “We hope that that is the sweet enticement to do a little bit more than that and get educated about each other.”