In honor of Tucson Meet Yourself’s 50th edition, festival performers, folk artists, food vendors, and organizers were interviewed in 2021. In partnership with KXCI Community Radio, we created 3-minute excerpts for a “taste” of their stories. NEW EPISODES EACH WEEK!
Interviews by Kayleigh Stack
Edited by Kimi Eisele
Mixed by Luis Carrión & Bek Johnson
Music by Gertie Lopez
Xavier Flores, Jr.: Sharing Who We Are
Since 1974, the festival has hosted the only tribally sanctioned public sharing of the Pascua Yaqui ritual deer dance outside of ceremonial practice. Xavier Flores, Jr, a deer dancer singer, now carries forward the tradition of his grandfather, Moro Mayor Don Pedro M. Flores, Sr. who led the Yaqui blessing at Tucson Meet Yourself for over four decades.
Matthew Schmit: Carrying on Polish Tradition
Matthew Schmit is the artistic director of the Polish Folk Dance Group, Lajkonik, which his mother, Joanna Schmit, founded over 25 years ago. The group is known for its high-energy performances and its preparation and sale of Polish food at Tucson Meet Yourself.
Karen Falkenstrom: Music in Community
Karen Falkenstrom is director of Okaiko Sonora, a Taiko drumming ensemble that has performed at the festival for 20 years. For Karen, creating performance for, by, and with community is a life’s calling.
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.