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2014 El Presidente’s Proclamation
HONOR YOUR HISTORY
Once again Santa Barbara extends to its friends and guests a sincere and hearty "Bienvenida!" as our city celebrates its 90th annual "OLD SPANISH DAYS FIESTA." Following the tradition of the Spanish Dons of offering hospitality to strangers, we say to all of you, "Welcome to Santa Barbara; Mi Casa es su Casa, consider this your home!"
As the great great grandson of Don Jose De La Guerra y Noriega , the last commandante of the Santa Barbara Presidio; the grandson of James B. Rickard an original founder of Old Spanish Days and the son of 1948 and 1949 El Presidente, John T. Rickard, I also say come learn about our history.Our Old Spanish Days commemorates the time influenced by the Chumash and our Spanish forefathers. The time of the Great Ranchos (about 1830-1860), an era under Mexican and American rule, when people still spoke Spanish and followed the Spanish California customs.
This was a unique time period in which it was famously stated, “Everyone got along” and neighbors took care of one another. There were no towns and few roads, only ranchos of 4,000 to 40,000 acres. Here, thousands of head of cattle were raised for the hides and tallow trade, and hence the tradition of the Spanish cowboy – vaquero – became legendary.
Riding for miles to visit neighboring ranchos, people became expert equestrians. Since there were no hotels, travelers depended on the kindness of the rancheros. A visit by a stranger then became reason to invite neighboring ranches to hear of news from the visitor, and an excuse to celebrate with song and dance and a party – la fiesta – lasting for several days! The Californios loved to come together for these parties and were noted for their love of dancing. This time was particularly highlighted in Richard Henry Dana’s autobiographical Two Years Before the Mast in which the author recounts his time in Santa Barbara in 1836, witnessing the grand wedding reception at the Casa De la Guerra, my ancestral home.Our tradition of handsome horses, expert equestrians, rodeo competitions with skillful cowboys, singing and dancing and delight in welcoming visitors: these are the things we commemorate and celebrate in our Old Spanish Days as they have been treasured in our community for over 180 years.
To this purpose we dedicate our ninetieth year of Santa Barbara's Fiesta. If during the days you spend with us enjoying the music, dance and fun, you leave with a deeper appreciation of our history and of the traditions of our earlier cultures, our efforts will have been rewarded.
Celebra tu historia y Viva La Fiesta!
Dennis F. Rickard
El Presidente 2014
(photo credit: Tim Putz)