History of Fiesta
Santa Barbarans have long been proud of their city’s heritage from Spanish founders and from the Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers who first settled here and built the city. The tradition of colorful music, dance, and song, together with a spirit of friendliness, hospitality and tolerance are part of this heritage which the Fiesta “Old Spanish Days In Santa Barbara” seeks to preserve and perpetuate.
History of the Rodeo (Vaqueros)
Once or twice a year, the herds roaming the open range were rounded up so they could be counted, sorted, and branded with their owners’ marks. These roundups were called rodeos, from the Spanish word rodear, which means "to go around or encircle." A big roundup might cover hundreds of miles, last for weeks, and involve hundreds of vaqueros from neighboring ranches who worked herds in the tens of thousands. These roundups were fraught with danger, so a vaquero’s life depended on a well-trained mount and superb horsemanship skills.
History of La Primavera
Santa Barbarans intent upon reviewing the past met in September 1919 to organize an association to arrange a spring carnival. Their aim was to “perpetuate through a spring festival the memory of the early Spanish and pioneer days of California, not alone of Santa Barbara.”
The promoters hoped to secure a playwright who would weave “data on the Spanish and pioneer days into an historical pageant.” The masque was to be one in which old time families could participate, with only the leads being taken by professional actors.
History of Saint Barbara
One of the earliest known Christian martyrs, Barbara lived in Nicomedia (Turkey) around the third century. She lived during the Roman Empire, which was still a pagan society requiring emperor worship. Tradition relates that her father was a prominent man in the Roman government, and that he had a tower constructed to isolate her from the world, perhaps to protect her from unwanted suitors.
Past El Presidente
In 1926 the “Old Spanish Days” committee was formed and under the leadership of Dwight Murphy they established a non-profit corporation “Old Spanish Days Fiesta, Inc.” Murphy was elected president and thus became the first “Presidente.” Each year since a new El Presidente is elected.