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Santa Barbara Tradition: Old Spanish Days

The dance-filled, horsey-happy, tradition-laden celebration marks its 91st.

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    Old Spanish Days
    Old Spanish Days dance into Santa Barbara from Wednesday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 9.

    THAT AUGUST AUGUST FESTIVITY: One can't really trot out the word "august" as in "venerable" and "long-standing" when it comes to a lot of events happening in the eighth month of the year. For August, the month, is about carefree days and frippery-filled ways, of swimming pools and bike rides and frozen treats that'll melt in under a minute. Its pleasures are passing, in short, and rarely of the stately and storied variety. After all, one can't call frozen treats "long-standing" or "venerable" as they tend to disappear in minutes. There are rather wonderful exceptions when both the term august and the month August intersect in a regal and been-around-for-decades way.

    SANTA BARBARA'S OLD SPANISH DAYS... is a prime and pretty example of this, having served as a summer celebration in the American Riviera for over nine decades (rather a longer time than it takes to eat a melting ice cream cone or play in a pool). Might it be August's most august gathering? Well, we don't want to imply it isn't a little cut-loose, too. The animals and the foods and the sweet Saturday Children's Parade, which is nearly as old as Spanish Days itself (91 and 85 years respectively). So to be stately and celebratory is a feat, but the famous fiesta pulls this off quite handily, thank you very much. So trot your pony to Santa Barbara from...

    AUG. 5 THROUGH 9... for a shower of events. If you want to picture all of the confetti released by a cascarone, when the egg shell is broken, that works: The shower of confetti is a fine way to picture the many to-dos colorfully dotting the schedule. A bevy of merch-bountiful mercados featuring different wares are among the visitor favorites, and the flamenco performed in the Sunken Gardens at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. A Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo, a bouquet of tours spotlighting local history, and all of the pomp you can imagine roll out over five full days. Is this the most august August happening in all of the Golden State? That might be subjective, but what's not is this fiesta's ability to meet the years, decade after decade, with a surfeit of merriness.