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No mercado, no problemo for two loyal Fiesta foodies

The cancellation of the Fiesta mercado didn't stop two local foodies.
Fiesta non-mercado
John Palminteri
The cancellation of the Old Spanish Days mercados didn't stop two local Fiesta foodies. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On a bed of dead grass in De la Guerra Plaza Wednesday at lunchtime, two longtime fans of Fiesta came out with food in the same spot where they would have been eating under normal Old Spanish Days conditions.

The COVID-19 changes forced the cancellation of this mercado and the second one at MacKenzie park off Las Positas.

There are no food booths, stages or vendors.

That didn't stop 1290 am radio host Baron Ron Herron and his friend Carpinteria Union 76 owner Don Risdon.

They carried in a bag of food and found a large wooded box under the city's flags to sit on.

"I brought a carnitas taco from El  Rincon  Norteno and then corn on the cob,  a sweet corn on the cob from Smart and Final," said Risdon. He took a direct bite and said,  "It is raw.    It is deliciously sweet."

The two are well known for arriving on the first day of Fiesta to see friends and get the first taste of the food coming out of booths operated by non-profit groups.

It's considered a "locals" lunch day before thousands pour into town for the annual Old Spanish Days events with music, dancing, a parade and the showcase of the region's rich traditions.

"Over 50 years I have been coming to the Mercado," said Risdon.

The Baron said he was looking at a virtual mercado. There was nothing in front of him at the time except for the weather-worn plaza and two guys who were semi-sleeping. His commentary laced with wit, was an extension of his just completed morning show.

Along the way El Presidente Erik Davis popped by for a photo.

A memory of the non-mercado of 2020.

Article Topic Follows: Events

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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