Dedicated volunteers hurriedly put finishing touches on food booths in De la Guerra Plaza on Tuesday afternoon, highly aware of the fact that Old Spanish Days Fiesta would be kicking off Wednesday, regardless of whether they were satisfied with their decorations.

Staffing mercados in De la Guerra Plaza downtown and in MacKenzie Park near Las Positas Road seemed to be just as much about tradition as the 89th annual Fiesta event itself, with many of the same nonprofits and businesses coming back each year to interact with the community and raise money for their causes.

On Tuesday, some of the 100 volunteers from Santa Barbara’s Holy Cross Church worked to perfect its booth, which will sell tortas for a seventh year at Fiesta.

“It’s one of the most important fundraisers,” parishioner Josie Ortiz said.

Fellow volunteer Alma Vaja said she thought the church would bring in more money this year because the economy has been improving.

Last-minute designs were done in time for Wednesday’s Fiesta El Mercados, opening at 11 a.m.

El Mercado de la Guerra and El Mercado Del Norte at MacKenzie Park will be open all five days of the Fiesta activities honoring Santa Barbara’s historical traditions.

Excitement continued to build Wednesday for the festivities, and the colorful markets that would fill this week with Spanish, Mexican-American and other foods.

Burritos, juices, pulled pork and other popular festival fare will be among the items from which revelers can choose.

Some called preparations a “hustle,” while others took a simpler approach.

Volunteers from Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 218 of Santa Barbara secured an American flag across a banner.

Veteran Dan Matter said the Fiesta has been the largest fundraiser for the veterans chapter and its high school scholarship program since 1986.


» Santa Barbara Mission Docent Tours — 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, 2201 Laguna St.

» Queen of the Missions — Special docent-led tours are offered Monday and Tuesday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.; and on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

» Courthouse Fiesta Tours — 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 1100 Anacapa St. Free guided tours will be offered every half hour of the Moorish-Spanish building.

» Casa Cantina — Noon to midnight Wednesday through Saturday, courtyard of the historic Casa de la Guerra

» Celebrate Fiesta where it all began as Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation presents the 11th annual Casa Cantina. Entrance fee required.

» Exposición de Fotografía — 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, (9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday), Samy’s Camera

» Art show featuring photographs by Fritz Olenberger, including photos the Fiesta

» La Fiesta Pequeña — 8 p.m. Wednesday, Santa Barbara Old Mission

“The Little Fiesta” officially opens Old Spanish Days on the steps of Santa Barbara’s historic Old Mission. This event features traditional songs and dances. Food is available for purchase from local vendors.

» La Misa del Presidente — 10 a.m. Thursday

The Mass of the President at Old Mission Santa Barbara is free to the public of all faiths who are invited to attend in historic costume.

» Celebración de los Dignatarios — 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday

Enjoy locally made appetizers, wines and music while taking pleasure in the Santa Barbara Zoo’s gardens and views. Tickets are $85 in advance and $100 at the door.

» Las Noches de Ronda (“Nights of Gaiety”) — 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens

A variety show of music, singing, fiery Flamenco from Spain, and vivid Folklórico dances from many regions of Mexico.

» Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo (Competencia de los Vaqueros): various times Thursday through Sunday, Earl Warren Showgrounds at 3400 Calle Real

Fiesta Tri-County Stock Horse show brings 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.

» The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Challenger Tour — 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real

» Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercado — 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday

Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercado serves up a wide array of authentic Mexican cuisine and entertainment at 227 N. Nopal St.

» El Desfile Histórico (Historical Parade) — Noon Friday

The Fiesta Historical Parade is one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States. The parade starts at the west end of Cabrillo Boulevard, proceeds east along the beach to State Street, then up State Street to Sola Street.

» Flor y Canto — 7 p.m. Friday, Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens.

Interwoven with historic narration, the historic Spanish musical numbers are accompanied on replica acoustic instruments, and local residents perform the songs and dances in authentic costumes.

» Kiwanis Fiesta Pancake Breakfast — 7 a.m. to noon Saturday at Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara St.

The Kiwanis club will be hosting the 62nd Annual Fiesta Pancake Breakfast.

» 83rd Annual El Desfile De Los Niños (Children’s Parade) — 10 a.m. Saturday

Young people of Santa Barbara, their parents and other parade participants don traditional costumes and celebrate the rich culture of the area. Parade proceeds down State Street, from Victoria Street to Ortega Street.

» Fiesta Arts & Crafts Show — 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, on Cabrillo Boulevard west of Stearns Wharf

A statewide gathering of artisans and crafts people displaying a wide variety of paintings, carvings, pottery, and other handcrafted wares at this free event.

» Tardes de Ronda — 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens

This Children’s Variety Show features local children demonstrating their talents and multi-cultural heritage.

» Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival — 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St.

Enjoy an afternoon of music by several mariachi bands and singers.

» West Coast Symphony 46th Annual Free Fiesta Concert — 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens

Bring the family, snacks, and lawn chairs for an afternoon of beautiful, free music conducted by Christopher Story VI.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.