SANTA BARBARA, Calif .– The COVID crisis has reduced Santa Barbara’s biggest event of the year to a limited version this year, but it has allowed the story of Old Spanish Days to be seen.
The history of the Fiesta is presented at the Historical Museum of Santa Barbara.
The latest installation is called “Project Fiesta: A History of Old Spanish Days”.
It includes an overview of the origins of the Fiesta and the pageantry, fashion and traditions of the festival throughout the city. There are restored costumes, posters, artwork, artifacts, historical photos, and two video walls.
The museum says that in 1924 Mayor Charles M. Andrea declared the Fiesta week “one of celebration and merriment, during which the period, which will be known as” Old Spanish Days “, l he spirit of old Santa Barbara will be lived again and again the new Santa Barbara will give way to the traditions of the city’s founders, and is seen as a time of homecoming for former residents and hospitality for guests.
Earlier this week, at a reception, Fiesta dancers performed in the historic courtyard. It included individual performances by The Spirit of Fiesta, Ysabella Yturralde and the Junior Spirit of Fiesta, Savannah Hoover.
“People are really excited to feel like they’re at the parade,” said Dacia Harwood of the museum.
“We really wanted people to feel like they had been there for the parade in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and beyond.”
With COVID restrictions, the famous parade will not take place this year. It attracts between 75,000 and 100,000 people annually and is the biggest event in Santa Barbara.
The exhibition at the museum recreates part of the emotion that accompanies the parade. “Feel the movement, feel a little bit of the occasional chaos when you sit on the sidewalk watching the parade, so that was the feeling we were looking for,” said Harwood.
Some of the items in the exhibit were from the museum’s collection and some were from the public. “We continue to collect movies, home movies, old KEYT footage from various collectors and really focus on the movement and feeling of the show.”
There are also examples of horse drawn carriages and outfits that you would have seen in modern times or in the early days. Careful examination of some of the designs and materials showcases craftsmanship and craftsmanship which in many cases dates back decades.
Harwood said: “Many dignitaries who were here and did the parade in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, but more importantly we have some of the costumes.
Slideshow alternates modern photos by photographer Fritz Olenberger with archive “We then went through our photo collections at the Gledhill Library and paired them with similar images from the parade since 1924,” Harwood said.
Adjacent to Project Fiesta is a Queen on the Hill exhibit, featuring artwork created around the historic Old Mission.
The museum is located at 136 East De la Guerra Sreet downtown. For more information, visit Fiesta Project!