Tucson’s 35th Annual Peace Fair and Music Festival took place at Armory Park on Feb. 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Peace Fair and Music Festival is one of Arizona’s largest gatherings amongst peace, justice and environmental advocates.
The groups present ranged from Planned Parenthood to Showing Up for Racial Justice. The event featured live music, food tents, children’s activities such as face painting and other sorts of entertainment throughout the park. Participants sold items such as T-shirts, rocks, gems, posters and signs that expressed many ways to support the ideas of peace and justice for all.
Steve Poe, a Tucson resident, said he was drawn to the Peace Fair because of the theme, “Demilitarization-Solidarity Not Hate; Let’s Stand Together.”
He said this idea is something he had been hoping and working on for most of his life. Poe didn’t serve in the military, but he did grow up during the Vietnam War.
“My draft number was a major concern, but no, I did not serve,” Poe said.
He said that he had a high draft number and did not have to go to war, which allowed him to finish college and move on to teach fifth and sixth grade, which he taught for about 30 years.
Poe said that the variety and the number of causes present was great.
“We kind of walked around one way; now we are walking back,” Poe said. “We have probably seen about two-thirds of the setups.”
When asked about the possibility of donating to the any of the causes while at the event, Poe said that he already donates to some of the programs that were present, like Planned Parenthood.
One advocacy group present included Veterans for Peace Tucson Chapter 13. The purpose of the group is “to serve the cause of world peace through non-violent and democratic means,” according their cards distributed at the event.
The current president of Chapter 13, Bob Phillips, shared some of the difficulties faced by anyone trying to recruit veterans to support non-violent approaches to international peace.
“With any veterans’ organization, the real challenge we have is that none of us can get young veterans,” Phillips said. “They are just not interested.”
One of the issues the group displayed for attendees was encapsulated in an informational packet called “VA Needs Billions for Staff & Facilities, & Better Management – NOT PRIVITIZATION,” by Buzz Davis and Ian Smith. For more information, you can contact the Veterans for Peace by visiting their website, www.veteransforpeace.org.
The Global Art Project was another group respresented at the festival. Karen Phelps, a volunteer at the Global Art Project, hosted a booth on behalf of the organization to contribute an active presence at the peace fair.
Phelps said the founder and director of the Global Art Project, Katherine Josten, a local artist, founded the program in 1994.
Since then, Josten has reached out to over 130,000 participants around the world.
“This is an international art exchange that anybody can be a part of,” Phelps said.
Any individual or group can register to take part, and every other year there is an international exchange of the media that is organized.
“Whatever the individual or the group creates, they are matched with someone else,” Phelps said.
In the following April, all the products of the participants’ creative works, themed around their vision of global unity, peace and oneness, is given as part of a 1-to-1 art trade with someone else anywhere in the world.
According to Phelps, it is exciting that “anybody can get involved.”
One does not need to be an artist to spread the message of peace around the world.
“There are a lot of teachers who get their classrooms involved and a lot of individuals that get involved, too,” Phelps said.
This project allows for individuals to celebrate and cherish the diversity of the world while simultaneously connecting those individuals.
If you are interested in getting involved or attending events like this, visit the Tucson Peace Calendar online for upcoming events and meetings. There you can learn about a multitude of programs available to those in the Tucson community, or donate to the Tucson Peace Center in support of the annual Peace Fair and Music Festival.
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