El Presidente determined to bring Fiesta to the homes of SB residents
From frequenting the pancake breakfasts and romping around the children’s parade to getting asked to join the board and becoming El Presidente, Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara has always been a part of Erik Davis’s life.
Moving to Santa Barbara at the age of six, his sister was a flower girl back in the 1970s and his dad was the president of the Kiwanis Club. He grew up celebrating at Old Spanish Days Fiesta often.
Mr. Davis attended Foothill Elementary School, San Marcos High School and studied political science and broadcast journalism at San Diego State University.
He returned to the city in 2000, and he and his wife bonded over the Fiesta events, ensuring they attended at least two events a year.
The couple was asked to join the board of directors in 2010, and Mr. Davis worked his way through the organization, serving as Primer Vice Presidente, Segundo Vice Presidente, the Division Chief of External Relations and Education, Public Relations Chair, Media Outreach and History Committees.
In addition, he has helped with fundraising, Fiesta Pequeña, El Desfile Historico, parade marshals and other key committees.
“It goes way back with me,” Mr. Davis told the News-Press. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love. Fiesta is so special to this community and it means so much.”
The 96-year-old tradition of live concerts, swirling dancers and joyous celebration was affected by COVID-19 like all other festivals. The board announced they will “reimagine” Old Spanish Days Fiesta 2020 by holding its signature events virtually and on television.
They have already kicked off “Fiesta music and dance Fridays,” where live performances can be live-streamed on Fiesta’s website. The lineup includes Spencer the Gardener, False Puppet, King Bee and Mezcal Martini.
In addition, other traditions were still televised, such as the announcements of Saint Barbara, Fiesta spirits and the audition for Fiesta spirits.
“People will enjoy the Fiesta music and dance and history lessons from home,” Mr. Davis said. “The city of Santa Barbara has been incredibly supportive. We have really great partners. There are a few surprises that we are going to do in a safe way, nothing with large crowds.”
He said they will also ramp up the historical content for social media sites and encourage people to dress up in their homes, hang Fiesta flags and dress up their businesses.
“We’re going to bring forward history in a way that will encourage people to stay home,” he said. “We’ll bring Fiesta to them.”
This isn’t the first time Fiesta has hit a roadblock. The celebration had to be cancelled after the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake, during WWII from 1941 to 1944 and during a drought in 1948.
With this in mind, Mr. Davis remains optimistic with modern-day technology and widespread adjustments from all types of organizations.
“They didn’t have what we have now with television, streaming, smartphones and social media sites,” he said. “We’re going to do what we can to bring joy and hope and music and color. It’s going to be different, but I have that spirit of Fiesta in my heart for sure. We can do something special for the community, however that looks.”
He said that between Fiesta’s great partnership with KEYT and his personal experience in broadcast journalism, bringing Fiesta to everyone’s home is possible.
The president said one of his favorite events of Old Spanish Days Fiesta is Fiesta Pequeña, which typically takes place at the Mission and a “sea of people in the rose garden” dancing. This event will still take place on the patio of KEYT. There will be no crowds, but there will be historic elements and live performances at the same time slot Fiesta Pequeña typically occurs.
“It’s not going to be the same, but everything’s different right now. We are going to bring joy and hope and provide dance, music and history of this 96-year-old organization in any way we can,” Mr. Davis said. “It’s just a joyous, joyous time in Santa Barbara — the best week of the year. But, the health and safety of our community comes first.”
To tune in to the live streamed events, keep up with news and be updated about virtual events, visit sbfiesta.org.