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The Waiting Is Over: Viva La Fiesta!

Santa Barbara's 88th annual Old Spanish Days celebration kicks off Wednesday and runs through Sunday

Santa Barbara kicks off five days of celebrations, parades, performances, food and fun on Wednesday as the 88th annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta officially gets under way.

According to Ricardo Castellanos, El Presidente of Old Spanish Days Fiesta for 2012, this year’s theme, “Viva La Familia,” celebrates the sense of unification, strength, and tradition the Santa Barbara community has developed throughout the years.

From Wednesday through Sunday, friends, family, locals and visitors will get to experience both wonder and excitement as Santa Barbara celebrates with spirit and pageantry its old colonial Spanish roots through various indoor and outdoor activities and events.

La Fiesta Pequeña
La Fiesta Pequeña, or “The Little Fiesta,” officially opens Old Spanish Days on the steps of Old Mission Santa Barbara, 2201 Laguna Street, at 8 p.m. Wednesday. This free event will feature traditional Fiesta songs, including tunes of the Californios, as well as traditional Flamenco performances, Spanish classical and Mexican folklórico dances.

Santa Barbara Mission Docent Tours
Fiesta visitors are encouraged to explore the historic beauty and architectural elegance of the Santa Barbara Mission during special docent-led tours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m., with Saturday tours taking place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. For more information and pricing on exploring this city landmark, contact the Santa Barbara Mission at 805.682.4713.

Courthouse Fiesta Tours
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse will be giving free guided tours of the old Moorish-Spanish building every half hour throughout the week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors meet in the Mural Room at the courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St. For more information, call 805.962.6464 or visit the information desk in the lobby near the main archway.

El Mercado de la Guerra
De La Guerra Plaza will be transformed this week into a colorful and festive Mexican market, allowing visitors to experience and feast on Spanish and Mexican-American foods, shop for crafts and souvenirs, and enjoy live entertainment all day and into the early evening. Located on the first block of East De La Guerra Street, across from Santa Barbara City Hall, this free event is available from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Casa Cantina
From noon to midnight Wednesday through Saturday, community members and visitors alike can celebrate Fiesta where it all began at the 10th annual Casa Cantina outdoor event in the courtyard of the historic Casa de la Guerra. The cantina is presented by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and everyone is invited to relax, sip a cold drink, and celebrate during this festive event at 15 East De la Guerra St. An entrance fee is required, although free admission is provided for SBTHP members. For more information call 805.965.0093.

La Misa del Presidente
On Thursday at 10 a.m., “La Misa del Presidente”, or the Mass of the President, will be held at the Old Mission Santa Barbara to kick off the second day of Fiesta activities. Dating back to the first day of Fiesta in 1936, La Misa is open to members of the public from all faiths. All those who are invited are also highly encouraged to attend in historic costume and Fiesta attire. This Roman Catholic Mass will be followed by a festive reception in the Mission’s Sacred Garden.

El Mercado Del Norte
Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to come and experience the food, music and dancing available throughout four distinct “neighborhoods” within El Mercado Del Norte. There will be a food court where visitors can watch daily entertainment and enjoy Fiesta foods, a Fiesta bazaar for souvenir purchases, a Fiesta carnival with rides and attractions for families and kids, as well as the Crazy Horse Cantina for adults to purchase icy cold beers and margaritas while watching live entertainment in the evening or enjoying the dance floor. Located in Mackenzie Park at the corner of State Street and Las Positas Street in the San Roque area, this free event is available for enjoyment Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m..

Celebración de los Dignatarios
This event provides an opportunity for Fiesta goers to meet and rub elbows with local dignitaries while experiencing the Santa Barbara Zoo’s lush gardens and majestic views on Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. Visitors can munch on delicious appetizers and wines presented by local restaurants and wineries, as well as hop on the dance floor and dance the night away to the tunes of Soul City Survivors. The zoo is at 500 Niños Drive. General admission tickets are $85; or $100 at the door. For information, call 805.962.5339

Las Noches de Ronda
From Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., “Las Noches de Ronda”, or “Nights of Gaiety,” will offer Fiesta lovers a free and exciting variety show of music, singing, fiery Flamenco from Spain, and vivid Folklórico dances from numerous regions of Mexico. At the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens, 1100 Anacapa St.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercado
One of the oldest and most festive traditions of Fiesta, Our lady of Guadalupe Mercado is a free community event at 227 N. Nopal St. that serves up a wide array of authentic Mexican cuisine and entertainment Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. this week.

El Desfile Histórico
One of the largest equestrian parades in the United States, El Desfile Histórico, or the Historical Parade, begins at noon Friday. The procession starts at the west end of Cabrillo Boulevard, proceeds east along the beach, to State Street, then up State Street to Sola Street. Viewing the parade is free, but there are shaded reserved seats available for purchase. Visit Fiesta Ticket Information to purchase Reserved Seats.

Flor y Canto
Original 19th century Spanish California dances and songs are interwoven with historical narration and musical numbers during this free Fiesta performance at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens on Friday, at 7 p.m. Unique songs and dances are performed by local residents in a style similar to performances held 150 years ago, in authentic costumes accompanied on replica acoustic instruments. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner and enjoy the outdoor show at 1100 Anacapa Street.

Kiwanis Fiesta Pancake Breakfast
The Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara will be hosting its 61st Annual Fiesta Pancake Breakfast this year in Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara St., on Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.  Over 4,000 guests are traditionally served during this event, and all proceeds go directly to support activities that benefit children in southern Santa Barbara County. Ticket prices are to be determined.

82nd Annual El Desfile De Los Niños
The annual El Desfile De Los Niños, or Children’s Parade, will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. Organized by the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department, the procession features the youth of Santa Barbara, their parents, and other parade participants dress-up in traditional costumes and celebrating the rich culture of the local community. The parade moves down State Street, from Victoria Street to Ortega Street. Parade viewing is free, and ice cream for parade participants is sponsored by MarBorg Industries. To participate in the parade, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 805.897.1982 for information and an application.

Fiesta Arts & Crafts Show
Held on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., a statewide gathering of artisans and crafts people displays a wide variety of paintings, carvings, pottery, and other handcrafted wares in the spirit of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Held on Cabrillo Boulevard, west of Stearns Wharf, this event is free.

Tardes de Ronda
As a children’s variety show, Tardes de Ronda allows children from the Santa Barbara area to sport colorful and traditional Fiesta costumes, as well as demonstrate their talents and multi-cultural heritage for all visitors and community members to enjoy during Fiesta. Held at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., this event is free.

Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival
Enjoy an afternoon of amazing traditional music by several mariachi bands and singers Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas Street. For tickets or more information, check out the Santa Barbara Bowl website, www.sbbowl.com, or call 805.962.7411.

West Coast Symphony 46th Annual Free Fiesta Concert
On Sunday, the West Coast Symphony will host its 46th Annual Free Fiesta Concert at 3:30 p.m. in the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens. Guest conductor Dr. Michael Shasberger will treat the audience to the rarely heard Overture to “La forza del destino” from the opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, in addition to leading the orchestra in “Overture to The Impresario” from the comic singspiel by Austrian composer Wolfgang Mozart. Rounding out the program are the popular “Les Toreadors,” or “Carmen Suite No. 1,” by French composer Georges Bizet, starring soprano Celeste Tavera and bass-baritone Emil Cristescu. “Symphony in D Minor” by Belgian composer Cesar Franck will be conducted by Music Director Christopher Story VI, and West Coast Ballet and the Spirits of Fiesta will dance during intermission.

Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo
On Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m., the Fiesta Tri-County Stock Horse Show and Rodeo kicks off its “Competencia de los Vaquero”s celebrations and perfomances by bringing in riders from the tri-counties to compete in the Alisal Ranch Horse Class, Fiesta Ranch Horse Class, Old Timers Team Roping and Steer Stopping events.
On Friday, at 7 a.m. and noon, competitions in breakaway roping, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing will also take place, while riders will compete in the Non-Pro Stock Horse Class and Buckaroo Class, plus eliminations for the Open Stock Horse and Hackamore Classes.
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, riders will compete in bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer stopping, mutton bustin’ and saddle bronco riding, plus PRCA team roping, barrel-racing and bull riding.
On Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. and noon, Junior Tri-Counties riders compete in breakaway roping, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing. Riders also compete in the Non-Pro Stock Horse Class and Buckaroo Class, plus eliminations for the Open Stock Horse and Hackamore Classes. 
The final events for the Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo will take place on Sunday at 1:30pm, in which riders compete in bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer stopping, team penning, mutton bustin’ and saddle bronco riding, plus PRCA team roping, barrel-racing and bull riding.
All horse show and rodeo events will take place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real. For tickets and information visit www.sbfiestarodeo.com, call 805.688.5093, or visit the Showground’s box office during Fiesta.

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Challenger Tour
Those experiencing Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbara will also be able to experience watching the nation’s top bull riders compete during this challenging event held on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Tickets are available by calling .805.688.5093, or visit www.sbfiestarodeo.com.

The Santa Barbara Police Department anticipates traffic congestion around various Fiesta venues, as well as road closures and detours downtown in conjunction with the Historical Parade on Friday and the Children’s Parade on Saturday.

A significant police presence is expected at many of the event venues downtown, and laws concerning disorderly conduct such as public consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, and public fighting will be strictly enforced.

According to a recent SBPD press release, gang-enforcement officers from outside agencies and juvenile probation officers will also be present, and unsupervised minors may be cited for violation of the city’s 10 p.m. juvenile curfew. Sobriety checkpoints and a number of additional Drinking Driver Team officers will be deployed during Fiesta to deter incidents of drinking and driving throughout the week of festivities and celebrations.

Noozhawk intern Amanda Garcia can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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