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Cascarone crackdown by the state surprises longtime Fiesta vendors

Cascarone vendors in Santa Barbara have been surprised by state officials who want paperwork filled out by anyone selling the popular confetti-filled eggs.

The cascarones are a tradition for Fiesta days in Santa Barbara. Many people are buying them to crack over the head of another person as part of the festive nature of the event. Confetti is often in the hair and on the shoulders of those attending.

For years, the city has not required the normal vending permit to sell items on a public sidewalk, but in recent years the once simple operation has turned into a large scale set up for some vendors.

A walk down the street by NewsChannel 3 noted many sites with over 500 eggs set up along with novelties, dresses, flowers, hat and more. It was described by one longtime resident as a street front gift shop.

Many vendors have trucks nearby with back up supplies or admit they have cases of eggs ready to go at their homes.

This week the State Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Compliance and Outreach Program arrived to review vendors specifically working with the Old Spanish Days organization. While they were in town, they reportedly also noted several blocks of vendors on the sidewalks downtown and realized they were not permitted, not declaring their income or paying taxes on their sales.

The Santa Barbara Police department, city officials and the vendors are now all involved in an unsettling controversy over this longtime tradition.

Police officials went into great detail with the state over the relationship it has with the vendors and the relaxation of some rules during Old Spanish Days. In the end, this year will only involve warnings, and there may be enforcement next year. Police leaders said any “heavy-handed” enforcement could alarm and upset a pre-existing, stable and positive relationship.

City officials also said those selling the eggs were often lower income or marginalized immigrants.

Some vendors showed NewsChannel 3 the papers they now have after seeking a permit online and were concerned their eggs would have been confiscated.

Some vendors said the money was just additional income for their kids and to go out for dinner and entertainment.

A representative for Old Spanish Days says the state was on site for their booths, but there was no link between the organization and the enforcement on the street vendors.

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