On July 22, about 250 members of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and their guests celebrated Old Spanish Days in style at the annual Fiesta del Museo. This refined, jovial, and entertaining affair raised funds for the museum’s programs and operations.
Most women donned elegant Fiesta gowns, while men opted for formal Spanish suits or Western attire. The museum’s courtyards provided a beautiful and historically fitting setting for the event. During the cocktail hour in the museum’s lower courtyard, Mariachi de las Olas Santa Barbara provided lively music and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Eve Flores performed the rumba, “Échale Azúcar” (“Pour Some Sugar on It”), which was as sweet as it sounds.
Dinner was served in the striking main courtyard, where rich, white chiffon drapery panels were strung overhead to create a warm, festive feel and house fun paper flowers and tiny white lights that softly illuminated the venue as the sun set. Black and red English lace overlays graced the linen-covered tables to complete the classic, colorful Fiesta look.
Over a delicious three-course meal, Spirit of Fiesta Norma Escárcega performed a beautiful flamenco piece, “La Primavera,” and Timo Nuñez, a finalist on NBC’s World of Dance, gave a dramatic, mesmerizing Flamenco performance.
Erika Martin del Campo, 2010 Spirit of Fiesta, hosted an entertaining fashion show featuring colorful Western wear from the museum’s own collection and from the Carriage and Western Art Museum. This included a sky blue rhinestone-studded suit made by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, owned by Fritz Grossenbacher, and modeled by Flamenco dancer Matthew Escárcega while Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy filled the courtyard. The show also featured historical fans from the Historical Museum’s collection modeled by dancers from the Linda Vega Dance Studio and Zermeño Dance Academy. Fun narration explained how fans were means of subtle communication, e.g., slow movement means “I’m engaged,” rapid movement means “I’m married.”
John Eubanks led a Western-style auction, and then the band Elements took to the stage and guests danced into the night.
The museum stayed open throughout the event for guests to experience the exhibits. The museum’s permanent collection includes the recently-opened Edward Borein Gallery featuring some of this highly acclaimed Western artist’s best paintings and a large collection of his etchings. Also open is the In the Saddle exhibit, featuring saddles from legendary makers along with attire, artwork and stories of our region’s equestrian culture. There is also the popular Missions of Edwin Deakin exhibit featuring the artist’s watercolors of the 21 California missions.
The museum, which strives to make history as engaging as possible, has exhibits and experiences for all ages. Its main exhibit, The Story of Santa Barbara, traces the development of our city from Chumash times to the mid-20th century. The museum’s collection includes 80,000 items from the Chumash, Mexican, Spanish, and American periods. The museum also offers educational programs for children and adults and conducts research. Admission is free.
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By Gail Arnold