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Tucson Meet Yourself returns with pandemic precautions

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:56 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson Meet Yourself is back for it’s 48th year. It’s a three-day folklife festival with music, dance, art, and lots of food from many of the different cultures that reside in Tucson.

It was held virtually last year due to the pandemic, but this year it’s back in-person with some COVID mitigation strategies in place. Masking is recommended, along with being vaccinated. Organizers have also limited vendors this year. There’s about 30% less this year than previous years.

“Everything is back and a little different. So, we have really redesigned the festival with everybody’s safety in mind,” Southwest Folklife Alliance’s Kimi Eisele said.

This means fewer performers, fewer vendors, and social distancing whenever possible. Last year during the pandemic, they had a virtual festival with about 40 online events. This year everyone was looking forward to coming back, but in a safe way.

“I think everybody has felt a little tentative in some level just to be out in public in a new way,” she said. “But one of the beautiful things about the folklife alliance and Tucson meet yourself is that we have a very close relationship with all the vendors and performers we work with. We’ve been working with some of them for 48 years.”

And something new was added this year: the loss and remembrance tent.

″I felt like if we were going to come together with festivities and celebration that we also needed a place to hold and acknowledge loss and that’s what this space is,” Eisele explained.

Tucson Meet Yourself is a way to experience all different communities and culture. Mine Calik has attended for 14 years. She says she does other festivals, but this one is the biggest and greatest of them all.

“So we do water marbling art. Turkish name is ebru. It’s very old, traditional art. It goes back to the 13th or 14th century,” Calik said.

With the online event last year, they missed being able to demonstrate their art. This year she is happy to see lots of familiar faces.

And the same goes for the owners of Sierra Skulls. Nickey Sierra has come to the festival every year and she is overjoyed to see it return.

“I was so grateful because everything was so up in the air. You didn’t know how long it was going to last. So, hopefully we’ll have a good turnout and hopefully everyone is vaccinated,” she said.

If you are needing to get your COVID-19 vaccine, the Pima County Health Department will have a vaccine clinic on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Organizers say they have over 50 different performing groups this year. Tucson Meet Yourself runs through this Sunday here is a link to the full schedule.

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