Barney’s Fiesta Blog for Friday, Aug. 4

Day Three of eating my way through Fiesta, 2006:

photos by Sue De Lapa dscn1036.jpgAs Parade Day dawned it was raining – raining! Never in all my years here has it ever pelted down on this special day in August. Blazing hot, scorching, yes.

By mid-morning the skies had turned to mist. But by noon, when it was time to mount up at Pershing Park, it had warmed up. I doffed my jacket and Sue and I climbed aboard.

But my steed, Bailey, decided that he didn’t care to walk the streets. We struggled. He refused to get anywhere near the starting line on Cabrillo Boulevard. It was time to go. But I had no choice but to ride him back to the parking lot – Bailey did this quite willingly.

dscn1037.jpgThen I mounted a lovely horse named Dominique. We had a good time, riding along next to Sue on M.C. It was a thrill to ride in the Fiesta parade, although when you’re riding you don’t see much of it. The view in front never changes.

Amid all the problems of the town and world, it was great fun to see the sea of smiling faces all along the route. Somehow, hundreds of examples of superb horseflesh found their positions and paraded up State, either with riders of pulling wagons. Two of the best on four legs were matched mules from the Santa Ynez Valley, with the longest ears I’ve ever seen on a mule.

I’d heard that it was the largest equestrian parade in the nation, but Wayne Powers, for 20 years the Fiesta parade horse honcho, told me that it was “one of” the largest. Who’s counting?

One of the visiting riders, with a group from Santa Monica, said, “It’s our favorite parade,” partly because the onlookers are so close.

dscn1039_edited.jpg And what a cool day. Then it was time to eat. Equestrians get to chow down at the Horseman’s Rendezvous in the Carriage Museum patio near where we parked our horses. I walked the buffet line, staffed by folks from Santa Barbara Elks Club 613. Tanda Jennings was forking over slabs of tri-tip and barbecued half-chickens. Ronnie Sumpter was scooping up spicy beans, Amelia Pino handed out tortillas and Socorro Lopez staffed the salad bowl.

Who was trusted with spooning out the salad dressing? Seven-year-old Sophie Hurtado.

Mariachis were piping out brassy tunes and a chorus line of women was mixing gallons of margaritas. Over at the bar, Bill Higbee was presiding as bartender as Sue and I strolled over. Someone yelled, “No checks!”

It was big Elk Gil Alonzo, Sue’s softball coach from years past. So I used a drink ticket instead of writing a check. (Fiesta can’t be too careful with deadbeats, I guess.)

I’d have to say it was my best barbecue of the young Fiesta. My tasting will continue with my favorite culinary treat of Fiesta Saturday: The Downtown Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast at Alameda Park, 7 a.m. until noon. All the flapjacks you can eat for $6. Plus sausage, coffee, milk and orange juice.

I’ll be flipping the pancakes, as usual, eating as many as I make.

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