CANCELED: 2012 Santa Barbara Cinco de Mayo Festival

Lack of Sponsors Forces Organizers to Pull the Plug

Santa Barbara’s 2012 Cinco de Mayo Festival, held every year for the past 20 years in De la Guerra Plaza, has been canceled. The food, music, and dancing scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday in the downtown space across from City Hall was scrapped after volunteer festival organizers didn’t secure enough sponsors to put on the event.

“It’s just really disappointing,” said Marti Garcia, who heads Santa Barbara Cinco de Mayo Festival Inc., the nonprofit that’s organized the celebration in recent years. Garcia said the rising cost of city fees — permits for the space, police security for the crowd, and gas and electricity for the booths and stage — combined with a lack of participation from major sponsors — like Wells Fargo Bank — simply made the production impossible to put on.

The cancellation was originally announced about a month ago, Garcia said. La Cumbre Plaza representatives approached her soon after, suggesting the festival be held in the upper State Street shopping center. Organizers were all for it, but didn’t find out until last week that the plaza’s $6,000 fee for private security and clean-up services nullified the cash they’d save by not paying city-mandated costs.

Though overall sponsorship has been down since the economy’s 2008 dive, Garcia said her nonprofit had managed to pull things together in the years since. “We’ve been lucky,” she said. There were simply too many factors working against a 2012 installment, Garcia explained. She admitted that planning usually doesn’t begin until after the New Year, which may be a bit too late. Garcia said her group will start organizing sooner next time and hopes the Santa Barbara Cinco de Mayo Festival can be revived in 2013.

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