One day after we reported that two major horse events, The Santa Barbara Nationals and Camelot, both canceled shows at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, we’ve learned that another popular horse event is threatening to pull out of the public arena: the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Rodeo.
“We’ve got a parking issue,” said Josiah Jenkins, Chairman of the Stock Show and Rodeo.
Jenkins said new parking restrictions imposed by the Showgrounds’ Board are a deal breaker.
“They’re not letting us park trailers in B Lot anymore with horses tied to ’em, just for day-use,” Jenkins said. “Overnight people use them in stalls but daytime, it’s common to tie to your horse and they’re saying it’s improper on top of pavement. It’s no different than walking your horse down a city street, in my book. They’re all fed, they’re watered and taken care of. That’s our issue.”
Jenkins said organizers of this year’s event during Fiesta 2018 got word from the Board’s President, Michael Medel, less than 48 hours before show time. Yet, they were able to pull off the bull riding, calf roping and mutton busting events.
“We upset a few people,” Jenkins said. “We put a few extra horses in stalls and we didn’t worry, unfortunately, about fire code; we double-parked in the barn aisles. We fit five gallons into a two-gallon jug. Right, wrong or otherwise, it was a problem but we managed to co-exist with our good friends at the Showgrounds.”
Reporter Beth Farnsworth reached out to Pat Cary, CEO of Earl Warren Showgrounds. Cary explained that having horses in Lot B became too much of a liability.
“Kids and members of the public would walk up to them … they could kick,” Cary said. “They (owners) just can’t leave them unattended.”
Both Cary and Jenkins admit the size of the horse-hauling trailers are bigger today than they were back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“Everybody had bumper-pull trailers,” Jenkins said. “Now they come with 30 to 40-foot trailers, land yachts, and we just don’t have the spot to put everybody. If we can’t get the additional parking, we gotta eliminate the kids’ event or kick the parade horses out or eliminate ourselves. We can’t physically get everybody in…in the area they’re limiting us to.”
“Trailers and RV’s are getting bigger,” Cary said. “Everything is getting bigger but the Showgrounds.”
Overall, Cary said this last Fiesta event seemed to “work well” although she admitted that some of the “old-timers were not happy.”
Members from both the Stock and Rodeo Show and the Early Warren Showgrounds will meet in the coming days in hopes of reaching a compromise.
“It’s a Santa Barbara thing,” Cary said. “We can’t see it moving out of the County. I expect it to work out.”