La Fiesta de Santa Barbara

Posted By on August 7, 2011 at 6:18 am

Having transplanted myself out here to NC from California over 11 years ago, there are few things I miss. Naturally, I miss my family, who are all trapped there in Santa Barbara for one reason or another.

Most of the time, I don’t really miss my hometown, as such, simply because most of the time it’s pretty much what you would expect from a beach-side college town.

But once a year, Santa Barbara gussies itself up and marks its heritage, dating back to its founding as an outpost of the Spanish empire. The annual Old Spanish Days celebration, more commonly referred to as Fiesta, has been celebrated since 1924. There’s a parade, some equine events, a number of cultural doings, and food. Lots and lots of good food.

Today is the last day of this year’s Fiesta. One of these years, I hope to make it back for a visit.


A scant 100 miles up the coast from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara has been a refuge for Hollywood types pretty much since the beginning of the film industry. In the travelogue film below, more than a few famous names are dropped along the way.

Don’t miss Judy Garland singing something about cockroaches smoking pot:

Such times, 1935. Rather more colorful than any of the Fiestas I ever went to.

Wait a second… I just did a bit of mental arithmetic. 1935 was 76 years ago. The first Fiesta I remember going to was 38 years ago, in 1973 (when Mom & Dad moved back to SB, and conveniently brought us kids along.) That means… it’s as long now since my first Fiesta, as my first Fiesta was from that in the film.

Egads. Suddenly I feel old.

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