Old Spanish Days – Fiesta

Santa Barbara, CA. July 31 - August 4, 2024

La Primavera 2023- Old Spanish Days’ Biggest Fundraiser Ever

Posted May 15, 2023

A sold-out crowd filled the historic El Paseo Restaurant for an exciting and memorable night of history, dance and community, all while raising more than $40,000 for Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, the non-profit organization that organizes the free public Fiesta events like La Fiesta Pequeña, Las Noches de Ronda and El Desfile Histórico (the historic Fiesta Parade) that take place every August 

The annual La Primavera celebration dates back to 1919, when a group of local citizens met and organized the La Primavera Association to "perpetuate through a spring festival the memory of the early Spanish and pioneer days of California”.  And so began the longstanding tradition of hosting a Springtime party in Santa Barbara.  The La Primavera Association is also the origin of the present-day “Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara Fiesta”. 

The evening started at the adjacent historic Casa De La Guerra where guests were treated to folklórico regional dances of Mexico as well as early California dance with live musicians. The reception culminated with a tableau vivant of the historic Theodore Van Cina painting Fandango, which portrays a festive dance scene that took place during the three-day wedding of Don Jose De La Guerra’s daughter, Anita, to Alfred Robinson. The wedding was featured in the popular book Two Years Before the Mast.

Guests then made their way into the historic El Paseo Restaurant where a fiery flamenco show awaited. A blessing by Chumash Barbareño Elder and 2023 Fiesta Parade Grand Marshal  Ernestine Ignacio De Soto kicked off the Four Nations meal which was curated to honor the Chumash, Spain, Mexico and the U.S. – the four nations that have governed Santa Barbara.

The highlight of the evening was the extraordinary flamenco dance show that brought the crowd to their feet multiple times and featured the first official dances of 2023 Spirit of Fiesta Jack Harwood and 2023 Junior Spirit of Fiesta Olivia Nelson. Matthew Petersom’s operatic signing from new Fiesta sponsor Opera Santa Barbara, was an unexpected treat. A Solera was performed by Talia Vestal (Spirit of Fiesta 2014), Jessalyn McCollum (Spirit of Fiesta 2018) and Amanda Cuevas, and the artistic duet of sister and brother Daniela Zermeño Sanchez (Spirit of Fiesta 2009) and Ryan Zermeño (Junior Spirit of Fiesta 1998) was dazzling. Manuel Gutierrez also performed a powerful flamenco dance to live music. The headliner of the night, world-renowned Spanish flamenco artist Patricia Guerrero, brought the evening to a close with a passionate flamenco dance after traveling to Santa Barbara from Spain.

“We spent 18 months planning the event, and the entire Old Spanish Days organization is thankful to everyone that participated, attended and contributed to make this event a success,” said 2023 El Presidente David Bolton. “It was a fun and a memorable night as we brought history together with extraordinary entertainment at two iconic Santa Barbara locations for a great cause.”

TourSpain was the evening’s title sponsor and with the support from community members in attendance will help fund the free Fiesta events in August. Saturday’s extravaganza became the largest fundraising event for Old Spanish Days. El Presidente David Bolton MC’d and KEYT’s John Palminteri was the auctioneer for the limited edition 2023 Posters that were printed on metal.  Together they raised more than $40,000. 

The next fundraiser for the non-profit organization will be Fiesta Ranchera which will be held in Goleta at Rancho La Patera gardens on June 15.  Then on July 30, the La Recepción del Presidente fundraiser at the historic Santa Barbara Club will once again feature an elegant "Four Nations Dinner" honoring the Chumash, Spain, Mexico and the United States.  Tickets are on sale now at www.sbfiesta.org/tickets.

Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a non-profit organization run entirely by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by only one full-time staff member. The Board is responsible for planning and producing over a dozen major events during the week of Fiesta, including the free public Fiesta events like La Fiesta Pequeña, Las Noches de Ronda and El Desfile Histórico (the historic Fiesta Parade) that take place every August.  One of the goals of the organization is to keep these cultural events free to the public. To that end, Old Spanish Days Fiesta actively seeks financial support from interested individuals, businesses and foundations. Money raised covers event expenses like insurance coverage, equipment rental, venue costs, and other fees. Over half of the funds necessary to put on Fiesta are generated from official Old Spanish Days parties.

First held in 1924, Fiesta celebrates a period of romance and hospitality through pageantry, dance, music, costume and cuisine.   Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation dedicated to honoring and preserving Santa Barbara’s history, spirit, culture, heritage and traditions. Tax ID # 95-1541669. Visit www.sbfiesta.org for more information or to make a tax-deductible donation.