SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The return of Old Spanish Days could be a financial boost for non-profits who are planning to operate booths and small vending sites at the two mercado sites opening for four days starting August 3.
One will be downtown in De la Guerra Plaza.
The other will be at MacKenzie Park on Las Positas.
The MacKenzie Park mercado will not only have a performance area and over 35 food booths, it will also have a carnival with 16 rides.
Downtown, the mercado will have 18 food sites.
Nearby there will be retail vendors in Storke Placita and on the first block of East De la Guerra Street.
Wednesday August 3, Mercado Del Norte at MacKenzie Park will open at 10:30 a.m.
The same day, Mercado De la Guerra in downtown will have a ribbon cutting with the board of Old Spanish Days and Santa Barbara City Councilmembers on stage at 11:00 a.m.
"We want the community to be with us here. The mercados are very important to Fiesta and the community," said La Presidente Maria Cabrera.
Normally there's no problem getting a turnout at either mercado, but with COVID concerns still lurking, the organizers and non-profits are doing community outreach many days in advance.
One non-profit running mercado booths is the Santa Barbara Sister City Committee. Marti Correa de Garcia said, "it supports the Santa Barbara Puerto Valarta sister cities projects and one of the reasons we even started the event is because we do an I Madonnari in Puerto Vallarta."
Other booths represent community non-profit groups and specific needs at schools, including sports teams. Some booths re strictly raising money for Old Spanish Days, which is also a non-profit.
Now in its 98th year, Fiesta has made upgrades to the mercados where thousands of people visit - often, to both sites.
Mercado Division Chief Marge Romero said, "it's very impressive because I remember when I first started with Fiesta it looked like a little shanty town." She says the booths have improvements and more plans will take place in the future with the vendor space.
"You have food, you have music, bands, entertainment from the dancers, and merchandise," said Cabrera about the variety in the mercados.
Mercado del Norte co-chair Isis Wills-Saltzman said, the mercado at MacKenzie park will have over 35 food and retail booths. Nearby there will be 16 carnival rides.
"We have rides for all ages to all heights from toddlers to adults, from the lady bug ride to the Ferris wheel," said Wills-Saltzman. "All kinds of great food, and great drinks and great carnival rides."
Many of the food items are made with family recipes and also by local chefs. "There's pride in the cooking and we also have restaurants, top restaurants. The best place to come and eat during Fiesta week," said Cabrera.
The Fiesta leaders have been getting out in front of the event at every turn to remind the community to come out to many locations during Old Spanish Days and to share it with friends, family members and their neighborhoods.
Already many homes and businesses have started to add their Old Spanish Days flags and other decorations.
For more information go to: Old Spanish Days