The Earl Warren Showgrounds celebrated its 50th anniversary last Saturday, October 18, with a family-friendly World Fest. Since 1958, the fairground complex has been a Santa Barbara mainstay, each year hosting a wide range of events, from August’s Fiesta rodeo – always the most popular – to the Fair & Expo each spring.
Last weekend, exotic wares and yummy fare from across the world packed the cultural celebration hall, while the excited screams of kids on carnival rides rang outside. Part of the festivities included traditional dances from across the globe that filled the stage with color and character.
Anna Munoz, from the Santa Barbara-based Linda Vega Dance studio, coordinated more than 35 performers, all hailing from elementary and high schools, during the Spanish section of the performance. Munoz expressed her enthusiasm for the event, saying “It helps children build self-esteem and keeps them involved in the community,” to which her 9-year-old daughter Andrea eagerly added, “It keeps children active!”
Also present was the non-profit organization Taste of Hope, which caters intimate dinners infused with Ethiopian flavors and ceremonies while sharing about self-help projects it funds in the country. Their president, Heidi Eske, explained “We are Americans here, helping Ethiopians help themselves over there.”
The driving force behind this organization, Ethiopian refugee Saba Tewolde, was alongside the Taste of Hope booth performing traditional coffee ceremonies with groups of fair attendees. Tewolde is the chef who creates the catered dinners and cooked up the Ethiopian cuisine on sale at the Taste of Hope booth. She said she wants to “tell the story of my life through my food.”
Other booths abounded at the cultural celebration with goodies from Bunka Shishu Japanese embroidery to traditional Chinese tea. Thanks to the little slices of the world showing up last weekend, it was a successful 50th anniversary bash for the time-honored fairgrounds.