About Old Spanish Days
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. This 89-year-old organization produces an annual eight day festival—Fiesta—that is widely regarded as Santa Barbara’s premier festival.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta is unique among festivals, both local and national, in that it is run primarily by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by only two year-round staff members. The 35 Directors and 25 Associate Directors represent a broad cross-section of the community. The Board of Directors annually selects a Presidente or Presidenta who not only presides over the Board, but also serves as an ambassador of goodwill to residents and visitors alike. The President has the honor of choosing a theme for his/her year and the design of the annual poster and pin.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta is a beloved Santa Barbara tradition that has continued for nearly 90 years. It fosters a unique spirit among locals as an important coming together which encourages community cooperation, celebration, and growth. The festival has grown due to the overwhelming interest of many different organizations to develop and maintain it as an extension and expression of their place in the community. Visitors are also able to experience this historical spirit of Santa Barbara when they watch and join the city and its residents in Fiesta celebrations.
The annual event provides an education to residents and visitors about the history, customs, and traditions of the American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and early American settlers that comprise the rich cultural heritage of Santa Barbara. Old Spanish Days Fiesta is not only a unique forum for the cultural expression of our spirit and diversity, but also provides a vehicle for the non-profit and community service groups to raise funds for local charities and social service organizations.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta has grown in stature and reputation to become one of the top regional festivals in the United States. The event annually draws thousands of visitors from around the world. Fiesta performers come from around the nation and Mexico to participate. Celebrities of international renown who have participated or performed in Fiesta include Leo Carrillo, Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Charles Lindberg, William Randolph Hearst, Don Wilson, Paul Whitman, and Delores Del Rio.