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Our Lady of Guadalupe mercado opens for Fiesta 2021

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – One of the most authentic and popular events during Old Spanish Days will open Friday, August 6 for Fiesta.

"Well, I don't think anybody is more excited than we are!" said Father Pedro Lopez, Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. "Last year we weren't able to do anything and this year we're really looking forward to it."

Last year, volunteers cooked up and coordinated a drive-thru, to-go fundraising event. This year, expect many of the traditional favorites served up in years past: tamales, tacos of all kinds, pozole and Mexican grilled corn. Father Lopez said organizers are also hoping to bring back the popular tri-tip torta sandwiches.

"A lot depends on how many volunteers we have available," Lopez said.

Organizing the Nopal Street mercado is a benefit on multiple fronts. It brings people back together after more than a year and a half. And, the economics of the parish depend heavily on the event that draws in huge crowds over the course of three days.

"We lost a couple hundred thousand last year. We don't know how much we'll make this year. It depends on the crowds," said Lopez. "Some people are still worried and afraid about coming together and working in groups."

It's very likely the post-pandemic turnout will be as large as the pre-pandemic crowds. The church grounds on Nopal Street transform into a small village with dozens of food booths, live music and festive trinkets. Thousands of people make the culinary pilgrimage for the homemade food. Live entertainment and DJ's will also be included.

"I know people are eager and anxious to find things to do and to come together and to have some fun and so, we're going to try to provide that kind of event and atmosphere."

Bring your appetite... and your Fiesta mask.

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Beth Farnsworth

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