Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm Not One To Blog Bilingually, But . . .

Viva la Fiesta! Time to water down the Margaritas and jack up the prices. When it comes to Fiesta there are two kinds of Santa Barbarians, those who love Fiesta and those who hate it. I know lots of people who make it a point to leave town when Fiesta time rolls around. I also know a lot of people who wouldn't miss uno momento of it. For a lot of folks it's Santa Barbara's version of spring break.

After all, where else can you see normally staid bankers and lawyers running up and down state street wearing oversize sombreros? They don't even do that in Mexico.

Officially known as "Old Spanish Days" it's more casually known as "Let's Go Loco!"

During the day most of the Fiesta action will take place at the Mercados. The original Mercado De la Guerra as well as the Mercado del Norte in McKenzie Park. The main event at the Mercados is eating. Non-profits serve a variety of Mexican dishes from their booths. In fact, it's rumored that Speedy Alka Seltzer got his start there. Wouldn't surprise me. Coming down to the El Mercado and grabbing a greasy taco for lunch is a Santa Barbara tradition. My personal favorite though is the tortas.

Another favorite of mine is the beer or the cerveza, which at the Mercados is served at the beer garden or the Cantina. And yes, lots of Spanish words or palabras Espanol in today's column. You thought you clicked over to Craig Smith's Blog and an edition of El Mexicano broke out.

In the evenings there's the Nochas de Ronda dance performances at the Courthouse Sunken Garden.

Friday is the parade, El Desfile Historico, which always draws big crowds. As with the Solstice Parade the best vantage point to observe from is a second story window or balcony along State Street. As far as I'm concerned, the further you can stay away from the business end of a horse the better.

If you can't score an invite to a second story or higher vantage point the next best place to watch the parade is either the patio at the State & A restaurant or at an outdoor table at Left at Albuquerque. Sure, you can't see above the crowd most of the time but with the Margaritas and cerveza flowing, who cares?

Thursday night is the Celebracion de Los Dignitarios at the Zoo, which I always thought was kind of an unwieldy name for a party. Why don't they call it what it really is, "The Big Shots Party?" Of course they might have some explaining to do when people arrive only to be disappointed to find out it's officials such as Mayor Blum that are being served up and not super-sized tequila shooters.

Saturday morning is that traditional Mexican meal, the pancake breakfast, put on by the Kiwanis Club followed by the Children's Parade or El Desfile de los Ninos. Why is it that people think that little kids with moustaches drawn on their upper lips are so cute?

Saturday afternoon is a good day to take the kids and hit the carnival rides up at the Mercado del Norte. Starting on Friday, you can visit the Mercado at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the corner of Montecito and Nopal Streets. Some say it's the best kept secret of Fiesta. Pace yourself though, you want to be ready for la musica at the Mariachi festival at the Bowl on Saturday night.

It all concludes on Sunday with the Fiesta Finale concert at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens. It features ballet, opera and flamenco dancing. If you've made it through all of these events you'll need a rest. Viva La Siesta!

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