Old Spanish Days Fiesta is unique among festivals, both local and national, in that it is run primarily by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by only two full-time staff members. The 35 Directors and 25 Associate Directors represent a broad cross-section of the community. The Board of Directors annually selects a Presidente who not only presides over the Board, but also serves as an ambassador of goodwill to residents and visitors alike. The President has the honor of choosing a theme for his/her year and the design of the annual poster and pin.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta is a Santa Barbara tradition that has continued for over 90 years for a number of important reasons. It fosters a unique spirit among locals who participate
it is an important coming together which encourages community cooperation, collaboration, and growth. The festival has grown due to the overwhelming interest of so many different organizations to develop and maintain it as an extension and expression of their place in the community.
The annual event provides an education to residents and visitors about the history, customs, and traditions of the American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and early American settlers that comprise the rich cultural heritage of Santa Barbara. Old Spanish Days Fiesta is not only a unique forum for the cultural expression of our diversity, but it also provides a vehicle for the non-profit and community service groups to raise funds for local charities and social service organizations. The event annually draws thousands of visitors from around the world who contribute to the local economy.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta has grown in stature and reputation to become one of the best regional festivals in the United States. Fiesta performers come from around the nation and Mexico to participate. Celebrities of international renown who have participated or performed in Fiesta include Leo Carrillo, Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Charles Lindberg, William Randolph Hearst, Don Wilson, Paul Whitman, and Delores Del Rio.