Kathy Cota Dancers wait to go on stage to perform Mexican folklorico dances, August 1991 Photo: Santa Barbara News Press
Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara
This community festival, first held in 1924,
celebrates the Rancho period (1830-1865) of Santa Barbara's
history. Old Spanish Days Fiesta is Santa Barbara's largest civic
celebration and is staged annually in the first week of August. It
is a celebration of the community's history, which harkens back to
a period when Santa Barbara was a remote rural area under the
influence of Spanish, Mexican, and local Chumash Indian cultures.
Fiesta celebrates a period of romance and hospitality through
pageantry, music, costume, and cuisine.
The report is structured to demonstrate how customs,
traditions, and pageantry preserved by Old Spanish Days in Santa
Barbara stem from ways of life during the California Rancho Period
as remembered by old Santa Barbara families. The Rancho Period,
following Spanish Colonial era and Mexican Period, spanned the time
when Santa Barbara was under both Mexican (1822-1848) and American
rule (1848+). Traditions of the California Rancho Period in the
categories of hospitality, food, music, clothing, horses, dance,
and the cattle industry are carried forward into modern times by
public events featuring music and dancing, open-air marketplaces
with traditional California/Mexican foods, Flower Girls who hand
out hundreds of flowers, and four days of rodeo events. The
historical significance of various Fiesta week events is
Project is documented with a spiral-bound 38-page
written report of the event, as well as a clothing and costume
history, and recipes; 34 photographs; a videotape entitled
Dances of Early California in Santa Barbara; a
proclamation by the Governor of California (August 2, 1999); a
Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of Santa Barbara County
celebrating the 75th anniversary of Old Spanish Days Fiesta; a
Fiesta program guide and official program (August 1999); a booklet
entitled La Fiesta at the Full of the Moon; and a booklet
on How to Design and Make Fiesta Costumes.
Originally submitted by: Lois Capps, Representative (22nd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.