Old Spanish Days to adhere to COVID protocols; no parade or mercados planned
There will be no Fiesta Parade or mercados at De la Guerra Plaza or MacKenzie Park this year at Fiesta 2021.
However, the rest of the traditions, while small, can take place in person this year.
La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow shared the news — along with a tentative calendar of all other events for this year’s celebration — at a press conference Wednesday morning at the Carriage and Western Art Museum in Santa Barbara.
Fiesta Week will take place Aug. 4-8.
Besides the parade and mercados, most other events intend to be held with a limited capacity.
“At the smaller events that we will hold, the public will be able to participate — whether it’s watching something on television or holding a smaller event, like maybe a family party or things like that,” Ms. Petlow told the News-Press. “We’re still working on Fiesta, and we’d still like them to enjoy Fiesta in their hearts and in their homes, and have their own family gatherings to continue to celebrate the Fiesta spirit.”
Maria Cabrera, La Primera Vice Presidenta, outlined the tentative schedule on Wednesday, saying, “The health and safety of our community and our visitors is of the utmost importance for Old Spanish Days, so this year, all the things are being planned following the protocols and guidelines from the CDC, state, county and the city.”
Saturday marks the first event, La Primavera, which will be held at the Carriage and Western Art Museum. Fiesta Ranchera will take place in Goleta in June, followed by the costume sale in July.
La Recepión del Presidenta will also take place at the Carriage and Western Art Museum on Aug. 1, marking the beginning of Fiesta Week with Los Niños de las Flores. La Fiesta Pequeña will take place on Aug. 4, and broadcast live from “TV Hill,” home to KEYT-TV, Channel 3.
Later on in the week, the Fiesta Stock Horse Show and Rodeo will take place Aug. 4 at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, along with Celebración de los Dignatarios at the Santa Barbara Zoo. In place of El Desfile Histórico will be a documentary showing on Channel 1013 on Aug. 6 and 7. Noches de Ronda will be held Aug. 6 and 7 at night as well.
Lastly, the Fiesta Arts and Crafts Show on Cabrillo Boulevard at West Beach will take place Aug. 7 and 8.
“All the events, obviously with restrictions, are going to be smaller,” David Bolton, 2021 OSD El Segundo Vice Presidente, said at the press conference. “But what this organization has worked so hard to do is to make as much of it as possible for the community, because Fiesta truly is a community event here. Even the nonprofits are trying to do everything possible, raising funds for nonprofits normally gaining their operating revenue at De La Guerra.
“We would like to do everything in the biggest model. Right now, we can’t, but we’re doing so much more, and as we get more permission, we’re going to continue to do more.”
Mr. Bolton added that many parts of Fiesta remain up in the air with the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, along with the anticipated reopening of the state on June 15.
“Things are changing by the week, by the level, by the tier, so I think the game plan Maria laid out is going to be pretty much the game plan, with a few other events that may be allowed to be added,” he said in response to a question from the News-Press. “I think we could see more news come out from Old Spanish Days as we get closer for larger attendances. In all of our talks with the city, the one thing they said would probably be the last thing (to be permitted) is large gatherings without entrance points.”
All attendees of the press conference Wednesday had to have their temperature checked at the entrance, and Fiesta organizers said the same will hold true for Fiesta events. With the restrictions on public gatherings right now, the city will not allow mercados or the big parade, but Mr. Bolton said, “Once we do get the green light, we are so ready. We’re going to be so ready, so we will be prepared, on behalf of Old Spanish Days, to do all that.”
Young men and women will still go around to visit local nursing homes during Los Niños de las Flores (maybe not inside the homes, according to Ms. Petlow). Ace Hardware will likely still sell Fiesta posters, bunting and colorful lighting for residents to decorate their homes like last summer. And the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is working on Project Fiesta, which will feature a series of speakers and home videos of Fiestas in years past. In addition, there will be no tickets for the rodeo — the Stock Horse and Rodeo will be free and open to the public, complete with bull riders.
This year’s La Presidenta also shared the theme she chose for 2021 Fiesta: “Honoring our generations.”
“The inspiration for this theme is that I moved here in 1978 and then back full time in 1989 … Just the wonderful spirit of Santa Barbara and all the people who make Santa Barbara such a special place, from the legends of the dancers, the builders, the community, people in public service — I just felt such a wonderful community, and I’m so happy I’m part of the community, being on the Old Spanish Days board for more than 20 years,” she said.
She went on to say that despite the current hybrid nature of Fiesta 2021, she believes the community knows organizers are doing the best they can with what they have.
Ms. Petlow referenced the only time Fiesta was canceled, and that was the earthquake that shook Santa Barbara in 1925.
“We rose together … We made it through the rubble, and I think we all have sort of our own little rubble now,” she said. “But I feel really good, and I think we’re going to have a great — wait, I don’t think — I know we’re going to have a great Fiesta.”