On April 9, 19 dancers from local dance studios auditioned to become the Spirit of Fiesta at the historic Lobero Theater where Fiesta started in 1924. Fiesta has been a long running tradition that was created so Santa Barbara would have an annual summer tradition and celebrate Mexican culture. Old Spanish days seek to preserve the tradition of colorful music, dance, and song. For the Junior Spirit of Fiesta, 11 dancers auditioned, and for the Senior Spirit, eight dancers auditioned. In 1949, the first Spirit was selected, and the tradition continues today. In 1965, the first Junior Spirit was chosen. These dancers put in a lot of effort and go through many stages to get to this final audition.
The event began at 2 pm, and more than 500 people gathered at the theater. Each contestant performed a dance for their friends, family, and judges. As everyone anxiously waited for the announcement of the Spirits, the 2021 Junior Spirit, Savannah Hoover, and Spirit, Ysabella Yturralde, performed their farewell dances.
Layla Gocong was announced as the 2022 Junior Spirit of Fiesta. She is 9 years old and a third grade student at Crane Country Day School. 19 year old Tara Mata was named the 2022 Spirit of Fiesta. Tara is a student at Santa Barbara City College and alumnus of Santa Barbara High School. These two women will represent Old Spanish days during this coming Fiesta which will take place from August 3rd to 6th. On August 3rd, they will perform at the Old Mission Santa Barbara and debut in their white dresses.
[Image Credits Fritz Olenberger/Old Spanish Days]