It is with my great pleasure to extend to you, residents and visitors of Santa Barbara, a gracious “Bienvenidos a Todos!” This marks the 92nd year our community will celebrate our seaside town’s multicultural history and traditions.
Santa Barbara’s geographical environment played a central role in the establishment of the isolated Presidio de Santa Barbara. From the times of Santa Barbara’s earliest inhabitants, the Chumash, to the Spanish explorers and on through the Mexican-American Rancho Periods, the significance of the sea has shaped and influenced our American Riviera.
This year’s theme – Santa Barbara: The Coastal Frontier draws inspiration from Santa Barbara’s early maritime history and its direct relationship and the embodiment of the prosperous Californio lifestyle during the early nineteenth century, the Old Spanish Days.
Though Spanish Manila Galleons were known to sail past Santa Barbara for over two hundred fifty years, it wasn’t until the early Rancho Period, during which Mexico opened Alta California to sea trade, that Santa Barbara became an internationally known trade port. The arrival of a Yanqui coastal trader or foreign merchant ship was always a much-anticipated event. Maritime traders, plying the coast for sea otter pelts, cowhides, and tallow, also brought to Santa Barbara hard-to-get news, lavish clothes, extravagant personal adornments, fine furnishings, and a reason for those from the vast neighboring ranchos to come together and indulge in food, song, dance – and guests! The leaders of Santa Barbara’s political and social life, the owners of the great ranchos would often host celebratory fandangos to welcome these visitors from the sea.
We invite you this year to imagine arriving at Alta California’s Santa Barbara shoreline in those early days, after many months at sea, experiencing the blending of our early cultures. These "golden days" have been known as a time of great fiestas, vaquero horsemanship, laughter, of great wealth and much leisure time for enjoying life. Disembark and create your own timeless family traditions. We at Old Spanish Days invite you to learn how the sea influenced early Santa Barbara. Join us in celebrating the generosity, lifestyle, hospitality and friendliness of the spirit of old Santa Barbara with the time honored ritual we call – Fiesta.
Santa Bárbara: La Frontera Costera
Viva la Fiesta!
El Presidente - 2016