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Tucson Meet Yourself turns 40 this year, and festival organizers say the event has become a unique cultural tradition in the community.

The first TMY took place at El Presidio Park back in 1974. Since then, it's grown into a showcase for the cultural pluralism of the region, said Maribel Alvarez, the director of the festival.

"At the time that was somewhat of a radical act… to open a platform in the middle of town for all kinds of people that had not been in the pubic view, to come and meet each other and occupy a space in the public civic arena," she said.

Alvarez said many people know the festival because of the food, but TMY is different from other similar events.

TMY is a “folklife” festival, which means that the focus is on presenting artists and communities that carry on living traditions rooted in a group’s own definition of identity," Alvarez explained.

"Tucson Meet Yourself is an educational event primarily… of course it comes dressed in food and song, and sound, and beautiful entertainment, but it’s not just a party to kill a few hours in the sun during October," she said.

The Tucson Meet Yourself Festival runs Friday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 13 at El Presidio Park, which is located at 160 W. Alameda St., and surrounding public areas.