TUCSON – The Tucson Peace Center has invited residents of the state to celebrate what has become a local tradition. The 20th annual Tucson Peace Fair, a festive day of “music, dance, food and discovery” will unfold on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Reid Park bandshell (DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center).

The bandshell stage will feature local musicians and dancers all day. Dozens of Tucson-based organizations working for peace, social justice and a healthy environment will display their work and literature. Food vendors and children’s activities are also an important part of this event.

The Tucson Peace Fair traces its origins to 1982 when a broad coalition of peace groups and churches came together for a statewide ballot initiative for a U.S.-USSR nuclear freeze. After that campaign organizers sought to hold the coalition together by forming the Tucson Peace Center, named after a coalition that had existed to oppose the war against Viet Nam.

Since 1983 the center has been holding an annual Peace Fair. It also publishes a monthly peace calendar that lists meetings and events in the community. Most importantly, the center has acted as a network to bring together local activist and progressive forces. Having a permanent coalition of progressive organizations has helped maintain a high level of unity on the left.

Over the years the Peace Fair has grown from its base among peace groups to include a wide range of struggles and causes. Peace groups are still prominent, but so are organizations like Jobs with Justice, Salt of the Earth Labor College, Students Against Sweatshops, the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union and a strong contingent of environmental groups. The Tucson Club of the Communist Party USA has been an active member of this coalition for 20 years.