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La Primavera Kicks Off Countdown to Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Event at the Carriage and Western Art Museum celebrates the festivities to come

Locals and visitors alike were treated to a warm-up Saturday evening for the variety of Old Spanish Days Fiesta festivities coming in August at the annual La Primavera kickoff event held at the Carriage and Western Art Museum.

La Presidente Joanne Funari and Vice Presidente Josiah Jenkins greeted guests and posed for photos in the receiving line before heading to the main entertainment area.

Inside, the sound of mariachis filled the air as guests sampled appetizers and sipped cocktails while dressed in cowboy hats, leather vests, flowing lace skirts and colorful floral dresses reminiscent of Old Spanish Days.

The official presentation began with a hearty welcome from Funari.

“Viva La Fiesta, everyone!” she said. “We have so much to celebrate. This year is the 225th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Mission, and it is the 87th year of Fiesta, and we live in the most beautiful place in the world and have the most extraordinary community.”

Funari also paid tribute to local law enforcement and fire departments in presenting the 2011 Old Spanish Days plaque with the Fiesta proclamation to Sgt. Noel Rivas of the Santa Barbara Police Department and George Martinez of the Santa Barbara Fire Department.

“We sometimes forget how much they mean to us until tragedy strikes,” Funari said. “They are always there when we need them — an unwavering call to protect and serve.”

Later, 2011 Spirit of Fiesta Marisa Leon-Haro and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Anais Crespo Pana each performed a flamenco dance for the crowd.

This year's Junior Spirit of Fiesta Anais Crespo Pana, left, and Spirit of Fiesta Marisa Leon-Haro.
Junior Spirit of Fiesta Anais Crespo Pana, left, and Spirit of Fiesta Marisa Leon-Haro. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

The official poster and pin for Fiesta 2011 also were unveiled with a pin created by Luis Rico that includes the historic Old Santa Barbara Mission, Pacific coastline and a flamenco dancer. Artist Laura Jespersen’s poster “Celebrate with Cascarones” features a woman tending to a basket of colorful eggs.

“I want the poster to portray the coming together of family and friends sharing traditions,” Jespersen said.

An additional poster created by local artist Kay Neola McWilliams titled “Hattie” was unveiled in honor of the 2011 Fiesta grand marshal, 100-year-old Hattie Feazelle, riding a horse. Feazelle has attended every Fiesta Parade for the past 87 years.

Party-goers helped themselves to a buffet dinner provided by Pascucci, and the evening topped off with the crowd dancing to the grooving sounds of Soul City Survivors.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta’s sponsors include: Titanium Sponsors — Jordano’s, Impulse, KEYT, Cox Communications, MarBorg Industries, the City of Santa Barbara, Albertsons and Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort; and Platinum Sponsors — Paseo Nuevo, La Cumbre Plaza and Allied Waste.

Gold Sponsors are Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf, Santa Ynez Bank of Chumash Indians, Business First Bank, Tres Agaves, Montecito Bank & Trust and Wells Fargo Bank.

Silver Sponsors include Noozhawk, Pacific Beverage, CASA Magazine, The Daily Sound, Santa Barbara Independent, Service Master, Flir Systems, the Dipaola Foundation, Brown & Brown Insurance, Santa Barbara News-Press and Bank of America.

Rodeo Sponsors are Constance Fearing, Pres Hotchkiss and the Fred Bixby family, Palmer Jackson and the Alisal Guest Ranch.

— Noozhawk society correspondent Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews, and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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