It is my privilege and great honor to welcome you to celebrate our 89th year of Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbara. I first began my involvement in Fiesta as a volunteer in 1976, moving on to join the board in 1991. I have filled various roles over the past twenty-two years, including the Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, and second and first Presidente. As a fifth-generation Californian and Santa Barbara native I have great pride in our wonderful city, and through my time with Old Spanish Days I have gained a great appreciation for how our community comes together every year to create this special event and carry on our many traditions.
Fiesta originated in 1924 to celebrate Santa Barbara’s history and our Spanish and Mexican heritage through pageantry including dancing, parades, and general camaraderie. Part of California and Santa Barbara’s rich heritage is the vaqueros, the horsemen and cattle herders of Spanish Mexico who came to California in the 1700s and became the area’s first cowboys. The vaquero tradition continues in California and the rest of the United States to this day. The Fiesta Rodeo and Stock Horse Show continues this tradition of celebrating the vaqueros, with generations of cowboys and cowgirls competing, and in more recent years, the addition of the Professional Bull Riders. Fiesta itself has grown into a wonderful family affair, put on for locals and visitors alike, to celebrate the colorful history of this city and state, including vaqueros, folklorico dance, and traditional songs. Dedicated sponsors and thousands of volunteers allow the continuation of these community-building traditions, such as the local non-profit fundraising of the Mercados, and free public events including Fiesta Pequena, Noches de Ronda, and the Fiesta Historical Parade, one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States.
I invite you to slip on your boots, strap on your spurs, jump on your horse and join Old Spanish Days and the County and City of Santa Barbara in our most beloved community celebration; Fiesta 2013, July 31st through August 4th in beautiful Santa Barbara.Viva los Vaqueros y Vaqueras!
El Presidente 2013
Photo by Nik Blaskovich