Spirit of Fiesta, Junior Spirit announced on Saturday
Tara Mata was announced as the 2022 Spirit of Fiesta on Saturday, joined by this years Junior Spirit, Layla Gocong.
Ms. Mata, 19, is a student at Santa Barbara City College.
“It truly means everything. I have been working towards this since I was five years old. This is truly the dream of a lifetime and I am just so excited. I just wanted to say a big thank you to the community. I am so excited to meet everyone and become the 2022 Spirit of Fiesta and represent Santa Barbara,” Ms. Mata told the News-Press.
Layla Gocong is a third grade student at Crane Country Day School.
“It means a lot, it feels great and I just can’t wait to perform,” nine-year-old Layla told the News-Press when asked what it means to be named the Junior Spirit. “This is my second year and I think I have tried my hardest this year. Thank you to everyone that got to watch me and I felt amazing being named junior spirit,” said Layla.
Prior to the announcement of the 2022 Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta, the outgoing Spirit Ysabella Yturralde and Junior Spirit Savannah Hoover performed their farewell dance to thundering applause.
Auditions for the Spirit of Fiesta and the Junior Spirit were held from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Spirit Auditions are among the most anticipated moments of Fiesta. Each year, the Spirit of Fiesta is front and center at the major Old Spanish Days events and, along with the Junior Spirit, bring dance and energy to the community.
More than 500 people were in attendance at Saturday’s auditions. Each of the eight candidates in the Spirit category and 11 candidates in the Junior Spirit category danced in front of family, friends and, of course, the judges.
Old Spanish Days officials announced the details of this year’s Fiesta where the Santa Barbara tradition began in 1924, on the steps of the historic Lobero Theatre, which first opened in the same year.
“Each year the Spirit of Fiesta Auditions kick off our Fiesta season. The first Spirit was selected in 1947 and the tradition continues today,” said 2022 OSD La Presidente Maria Cabrera.
Spirit participants attend local schools and have been dancing with local dance studios for several years.
Fiesta 2022 takes place this year from August 3-6.