La Fiesta Pequeña wraps up first day of full-fledged festival
La Fiesta Pequeña colorfully capped off the opening day of this year’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta on Wednesday with around 200 dancers performing a variety of dance styles including flamenco, folklórico, early California and fusion Colombian.
Nearly two hours before the dancing began, locals and tourists alike were already streaming up Laguna Street to either settle into spots claimed earlier in the evening, or hopefully find one in the sea of blankets and folding chairs that already covered both lawns of the Santa Barbara Mission. As the sun began to set on mission prior to the dancing, crowds were serenaded by a mariachi band.
Numerous vendors were on hand to supply event goers with flowers, hats, silly string and cascarones (a Fiesta staple of hollowed-out eggs filled with confetti or — for the truly brave of heart — glitter). And on the upper lawn closest to the mission, Timbers Roadhouse of Goleta featured offerings of burritos, churros, nachos, tacos, and tri-tip sandwiches.
The event allowed for some bipartisan rejoicing, with both of the city’s state Assembly candidates expressing their pleasure at the official return of in-person attendance at the event following the 2020 and 2021 Fiesta Pequeñas, which were officially closed to the public. (A crowd showed up anyway last year at the mission.)
“Fiesta’s a wonderful tradition, I love joining all of our neighbors in the sense of community here on the opening night of Fiesta,” Democratic candidate and 2nd District County Supervisor Gregg Hart told the News-Press. “It’s a wonderful tradition, and I’m so glad we’re able to join with each other to celebrate this tremendous tradition.”
“It feels great to be back to normal after COVID and that we can all be here together as a community celebrating Fiesta Pequeña,” added Republican candidate and former EPA regional administrator Mike Stoker. “It’s been too many years and what a great time bringing the whole community together. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“It’s an event that the whole community can come out and enjoy, and I think everyone is just loving being able to come together and enjoy Fiesta,” he said.
Also there to speak to the News-Press was this year’s La Presidente, Maria Cabrera, who also expressed her joy at seeing crowds return in force to Fiesta’s signature opening event.
“I mentioned earlier today that it’s time to get out of the house and stop the Netflix binges, and time to get going with being together with familia,” she said. “Todos juntos en familia!”