SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Old Spanish Days's Fiesta La Presidente Maria Cabrera announced the 2022 Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta at the end of the Final Auditions before a live audience on Saturday, April 9.
Tara Mata, a 19-year-old student at Santa Barbara City College, was selected 2022 Spirit of Fiesta. She danced a Cantinas, according to event organizers.
Meanwhile, nine-year-old Layla Gocong, a third grader at Crane Country Day School, was chosen as the 2022 Junior Spirit. She danced a Tanguillo, according to event organizers.
Organizers said that more than 500 were in attendance as each of the candidates, eight in the Spirit category, and 11 in the Junior Spirit category, danced in front of family, friends and the anonymous judges.
The auditions took place at 2:00 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, which is where Fiesta began nearly a century ago in 1924, according to event organizers.
According to event organizers, "the Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta represent the charm and beauty of the culture of Old Spanish Days."
Young performers dedicate countless hours preparing for this annual event and for an honor to represent Old Spanish Days as the “Spirit of Fiesta” and the “Junior Spirit of Fiesta.” The Spirit of Fiesta leads the annual parade in a traditional white dress and embodies the gaiety and vitality of Santa Barbara's annual summer festival. She has come to be the visual representation of Fiesta, a goodwill ambassador to local residents and visitors alike.Santa Barbara Fiesta
The community was invited to watch the 19 young dancers as they take the stage to compete, and the show ended with the announcement of the 2022 Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
Event staff said that in an effort to create the safest possible environment for guests, all attendees (including children 5 years old and younger) must show proof of vaccination OR supply a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to each event.
Staff said that over-the-counter tests will not be accepted.
Organizers added that masks are no longer required indoors, but are recommended.
The Lobero Theatre staff and ushers have all been fully vaccinated, and adults must show photo ID, according to staff.