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Spirit of Fiesta is invited to Spain as Old Spanish Days crews work on Mercados and floats

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--For the first time in 3 years painters are touching up their booths at El Mercado Del Norte in Mackenzie Park and El Mercado De La Guerra Plaza.

That's where fiesta food will make mouths water during Old Spanish Days.

Sean Malis said his grandmother is in a 1939 black and white photo on the banner for El Mercado De La Guerra Plaza.

Malis said every cent spent will help nonprofits including Lifeline Outreach from Ventura and the Santa Barbara Junior Chamber of Commerce.

While fiesta fundraisers are held in hopes of breaking even, Malis said it is never about the money, it is about the tradition.

Work is also being done on a number of new floats at the Carriage Museum.

Instead of riding on a horse on Friday, La Presidente Maria Cabrera decided to ride a float with her family in El Desfile Histórico ( Historical Parade) along Cabrillo Blvd.

She said it goes with the theme "Todos Juntos en Familia" which translates to "All Together as a Family"

The float built by the Knights of Columbus will be decorated to look like a painting of people dancing the Fandango. The actual painting is in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

Organizers say with more than 600 horses it is now the largest horse parade in the nation.

And while all the preparations are underway the dancers are rehearsing and performing.

The Chief of Dance and Entertainment Patricia Oreña said she has a surprise for Spirit 2022 Tara Mata.

"This year again the Spanish Consulate is sponsoring the Spirit to take a trip to Spain, to take classes to immerse themselves in the dance community," said Oreña.

The last Spirit was invited, too, but the scheduling was impacted by COVID.

Tara Mata could go in January depending on her schedule.

Primer Vice Presidente David Bolton said, "The Ministry of Culture for Spain has been a long time supporter of all the dancing culture in Santa Barbara, the flamenco, the Santa Barbara Flamenco Festival and everything and likewise they want to support Old Spanish Days."

It is considered a tremendous opportunity.

"Dance is so important to this organization, this community that this is a great collaboration between Old Spanish Days and the Culture of Ministry to Spain," said Bolton.

For more Fiesta information visit

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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