Fiesta season has arrived. Old Spanish Days, the local nonprofit that organizes Fiesta, lit off the celebratory season with La Primavera at the Carriage and Western Arts Museum on Saturday, May 16, resurrecting the good ol’ days in full attire.

The event also featured traditional dance from Las Fiesteras, who, along with the Native Daughters of Old California, work to preserve the vibrant history of the state.

Michael Dominguez, El Presidente of Old Spanish Days, led the ceremonies, declaring this season’s theme “a gathering of friends,” while attendees sipped margaritas and dined on catering from Woody’s BBQ.

Dominguez said that Fiesta is an important part of Santa Barbara’s culture. According to Dominguez, the celebration was originally created to appeal to the carnival spirit lurking in everyone, as well as stimulate the city’s economy during a slow summer season. It ended up drawing travelers from all over the state and kept the city robust, Dominguez said.

Today, it still serves those functions, but in a different form. Members of Old Spanish Days describe it as an important celebration of the city’s roots, as well as a necessary renewal.

Dominguez said most locals are split two ways, either dreading Fiesta or embracing it for a thrill. However, Dominguez also said that during the celebrations, the motels are full, which is good for Santa Barbara’s business.

It is important to celebrate California’s history, said Diana Replogle-Purinton of the Native Daughters, because it reminds us of who we are. The Spanish and Chumash were here first, which certainly marked the local culture, but the large influence made by the first white settlers has left an indelible impression upon the state’s culture that is still intact, she said.


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