Young Artist Sebatian Cadwell thanks the judges and Sister Cities International for his prize. | Photo: Bonnie Carroll

A delegation from the City of Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta organization were welcomed by Santa Barbara Sister Cities members at a dinner party upon their arrival at the home of Board Treasurer Gil Garcia and wife Marti, where a delicious potluck and beverages were served, and President Margaret Saavedra made introductions among long-time and new members. The welcome Party at the home of Gil & Marti Garcia included warm hellos and hugs, as well as a review of their schedule while in Santa Barbara.

This year’s schedule included a vast array of new locations, new introductions and additional delightful enjoyment of annual events so appreciated by the members. A welcome breakfast on day 1 was followed by a complete tour of Direct Relief in Goleta, and then a tour of the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in Santa Barbara. A staff oncologist and gave a very informative presentation on the history of RTCC and broke the group into smaller groups for a private tour of the facility by docent Sam and the doctor. Many thanks to the Ridley-Tree staff for their kind accommodation and

Next day included a fabulous cowboy Chili Cook-off hosted by member Scott Burns and wife Lisa, with ten members entered in the competition, accompanied by live Bag Pipe musical entertainment. Members provided delicious side plates, salads and desserts and charming bartenders kept the liquids flowing.  The People’s Choice winners were gifted aprons created by Puerto Vallarta President Irma Lorena Perez Coultas and husband Raul Coultas, with “Amazing Grace” being played by the Bag Pipe duo. Winners of the cook-off included Alex Duran, Gloria Garcia, Danny Contreras, and Bonnie Carroll. The back yard dinner was also accompanied by member potluck items and a huge table of desserts. It was a delicious chili filled evening.

The annual Mass at the Old Mission with Father Larry Gosslein, OFM, and the traditional photograph with Father on the steps of the historic Mission was inspiring, as was Father’s special mention and blessings to our Puerto Vallarta visitors during and after mass. A tour of the Mission was also offered to Puerto Vallarta guests who were interested.

Father Larry Gosslein, OFM with Puerto Vallarta and Santa Barbara Sister City Members at The Old Mission Santa Barbara | Photo: Bonnie Carroll

The Sunrise Rotary Dolphin Dive on Cabrillo Boulevard offered fun adventure and SB/PV were sponsors with a manned PV booth during the event in the afternoon, where other City of Santa Barbara Sister Cities members were invited to also promote their international cities to attending guests. Families enjoyed the races and winning prizes to benefit Sunrise Rotary, who have generously supported the charitable focus’ of Santa Barbara Sister Cities in Puerto Vallarta.

The beautiful Fiesta Bash hosted by Guy & Patricia de Mangeone, was an MGM poolside venue in Hope Ranch, were guests enjoyed a buffet dinner, prepared by our new Miraflores Peru members, enjoyed as the sun was setting.  Later dancing the night away on the balcony to a DJ became the focus of the evening with everyone dressed in their colorful Fiesta costumes. Patricia and Guy “The Berry Man” enjoyed visiting with guests and many members were sharing warm goodbyes to most of our Puerto Vallarta visitors who were leaving the area immediately following their visit to Point Hueneme for overnight activities with our new Sister Cities members at Point Hueneme for tours, food and fun, as well as an introduction to the newly appointed Mexican Consul General for the Oxnard/Ventura area Ambassador Ricardo Santana Velazquez, Consul for Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.

The Young Artists & Authors reception at the Santa Barbara County Education Building in Santa Barbara, hosted by Kai Tepper, Chair of the Creative Children’s Art Project and current coordinator of I Madonnari at The Old Mission in Santa Barbara,  welcomed all especially our remaining Puerto Vallarta guests to view the beautiful artworks of our 2023 YAAS competition winners displayed around the room, and to become acquainted with the new coordinators of I Madonnari here in Santa Barbara, as well as information on the I Madonnari Italian Art event formed in Puerto Vallarta by Kathy Kouri and Ann Heffernan, which has flourished over the years and is now becoming a main tourist attraction to art lovers visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Puerto Vallarta President Irma Perez de Coultas and spouse Raul Coultas Enjoying Chili Cook-off Dinner | Photo: Bonnie Carroll

Young art award prize winner Sebatian Cadwell shared from the microphone his surprise and delight at being selected and said he hopes to participate again next year. Winners of these prizes qualify to participate in the Sister Cities International competition later this year for a $1000 prize.

2023 Artists and Authors winners included #1 Leighton Willow Smith, #2 April Harper – Dos Pueblos and #3 Sebatian Cadwell (US Artists), #1 Melany icole joya Rodriguezs, #2 Viviana Vasquez Romero, #3 Amara Estefania Coria Garcia (Mexico Artists) and Poets # 1 Ryan Calkins, #2 Broch Mitchel and # 3 Penelope Walsh (Authors US). Many thanks to Santa Barbara Sister Cities members  who hosted the 2023 guests President Irma Perez de Coultas, Raul Coultas Gomez, Dulce de la Cruz, Luis de la Cruz, Cuquis Caballero Ortiz, Heriberta Caballero Ortiz, Amalia Martinez and Ma Elena Sahagun Pena. Members of the Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Committee took our special guests to their departure destinations, shared warm farewells, and expressed their excitement to be seeing them again in October 2023 for the Annual Sister City visit to Puerto Vallarta. For Sister City of Santa Barbara information or membership please visit


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