Fiesta Is Back! Almost

Dancing, Parties, Rodeo Return for 2021 Old Spanish Days Celebration

La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow thanked many people involved in Santa Barbara's 2021 Fiesta during today's announcement of events, which won't include parades or mercados this year. | Credit: Lily Mae Lazarus

As California lifted many COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, Old Spanish Days officials gathered at the Old Mission to announce that Fiesta is returning to Santa Barbara. While this year’s festivities will not include the mercados or the equestrian parade, Fiesta Pequeña, Noches de Ronda, Tardes de Ronda, and the rodeo are all coming back this year. Fiesta carries the theme “Honoring Our Generations” for 2021 and will run from August 4 to August 8.

“The Old Spanish Days Board of Directors is pleased to present our 97th annual Fiesta this year with the return of some traditional events,” said La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow. “Everybody is ready to celebrate in some way, shape, or form, and to get back to what we know as Fiesta.”

2021 Spirit of Fiesta Ysabella Yturralde and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Savannah Hoover. | Credit: Lily Mae Lazarus

Petlow announced the full Fiesta schedule, which includes the Arts and Crafts Show on Saturday, August 7, and Sunday, August 8, along Cabrillo Boulevard, and the opening party — Recepción del Presidente — on Sunday, August 1 at the Carriage and Western Art Museum. Old Spanish Days will debut its Fiesta Concert Series on July 30, July 31, and August 7 at the Carriage and Western Art Museum.

In Goleta, instead of the traditional Fiesta Ranchera events in June, Old Spanish Days and the Goleta Valley Historical Society will host 2021’s Fiesta Ranchera On the Go. Featuring performances by dance groups and festive music, Fiesta Ranchera takes place Thursday, June 17 at Calle Real Center and Saturday, June 19 at Camino Real Marketplace. The City of Goleta is declaring June 17, 2021, as “Fiesta Ranchera Day.”

At Tuesday’s announcement, Father Dan Lackey of the St. Barbara Parish said he believed this year’s Fiesta would be a great sign of life, hope, and energy for the Santa Barbara community. In turn, Spirit of Fiesta Ysabella Yturralde and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Savannah Hoover shared their excitement. “Last year, without Fiesta, it felt like there was something missing,” said Yturralde. “I am so excited we get to perform for a live audience and get in the celebration again.”

Although many pandemic era mandates are lifting, the COVID-19 health-and-safety components to Fiesta remain in place. However, according to Old Spanish Days El Segundo Vice Presidente David Bolton, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department gave the organization approval to host Fiesta Pequeña, and, he promised, “We have gone through the proper protocols to make sure we are doing everything correctly.”

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