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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 5:15 pm | Partly Cloudy 59º


Mercado De la Guerra Serves as Fiesta Town Square for Old Spanish Days

Throngs of visitors find food, entertainment and shopping opportunities in jam-packed community village


Santa Barbara was filled with the sounds of Old Spanish Days Fiesta this past week as thousands of people gathered to celebrate local tradition, customs and history. Strolling El Mercado De la Guerra at De la Guerra Plaza was an important part of the experience.

The first block of East De la Guerra Street was blocked off for the mercado, which was packed with dozens of vendors and a steady crowd of visitors shopping, feasting and listening to live performances from Wednesday through Saturday night.

“There has been so much more traffic compared to previous years,” said Lauren Trujillo, visitor services coordinator at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, a longstanding partner of Old Spanish Days and an annual Fiesta participant.

“I am so happy to see Santa Barbara come together and celebrate traditions, especially after all we have been through in the past year.”

Trujillo manages the museum’s store, which occupied a booth at the mercado.

“I come here every year and my favorite thing about Fiesta is seeing the crowd in good spirits,” she said. “Everyone is dancing and having a great time listening to the live music and participating in celebrating Santa Barbara history.”

People were able to take a stroll of the market and shop for apparel and various other items while enjoying a variety of Mexican food, including enchiladas, tacos, burritos and even homemade churros.

Live performers could be heard on the nearby stage, belting out traditional Latin tunes as well as classic oldies for the crowd to sing along to.

For those age 21 and up, Casa Cantina offered a beer and margarita garden in the courtyard of the historic Casa De la Guerra. The venue was presented by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

“I love the Casa Cantina because it’s like a little getaway where we can listen to live music and enjoy a yummy drink while dancing,” said Brittany Lovelace, who was attending the mercado.

“El Mercado De la Guerra is special because it has a variety of things that we can do. We can shop for a bit, taste traditional Mexican dishes, and even enjoy a margarita or two.”

Grace Yu of Grace Design was among the many vendors.

“Fiesta is so unique compared to any other celebration because everything from the performers to their costumes takes on the Spanish culture, and really celebrates the history of Santa Barbara,” she said.

A second market, El Mercado Del Norte, was held at MacKenzie Park in San Roque.

Noozhawk intern Sheridan Taphorn 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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