Santa Barbara’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations outlasted the fifth of May this year, as hundreds of Santa Barbara residents gathered at De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara to celebrate the weekend-long, 15th annual Santa Barbara Cinco de Mayo Festival.
Santa Barbara Cinco de Mayo Festival, Inc. sponsored and organized the two-day event, which featured a street fair, live bands and traditional Mexican food. The event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, raised $30,000 for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation – a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping restore and preserve historical sites in Santa Barbara.
Event Coordinator Marti Correa-Garcia said the festival was designed to give the local community a chance to celebrate Cinco de Mayo together.
“The stage held live music all day long, with a kid’s show as well as a 12-year-old singer,” Correa-Garcia said. “The event really brings out the Latin community that doesn’t normally venture downtown.”
Correa-Garcia said a total of 18 acts performed during the weekend. While the festival attracted attendees from many different backgrounds, only Spanish was spoken over the festival’s PA system.
“It’s one of the few events done completely in Spanish,” Correa-Garcia said.
Vendors such as Cesar’s Place Fish and Chips and El Cazador served traditional Mexican food at the festival; Domino’s Pizza and Woody’s BBQ also hosted booths at the event. Tecate and Pacific Beverage, both of whom sponsored the event, opened a beer garden in the grass lot across from De la Guerra Plaza.
The event’s street fair featured local vendors’ T-shirt and jewelry booths, as well as representatives from companies such as T-Mobile, Mel Clayton Ford and Casa Bonita Realty. Correa-Garcia said this year was the largest the festival has ever been.
“We tried to include activities for everyone,” Correa-Garcia said. “There’s a kid’s corner during the day and live music for everyone at night.”
The event was sponsored by a variety of local organizations such as Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and MarBorg Industries.
Derek Carlson, Marborg Industries business manager, said the company has sponsored the event for several years.
“We support a lot of different activities in the community,” Carlson said. “It’s just our way to give back to the community that we’ve been a part of for so long.”
Buellton resident George Aldana, 34, attended the festival with his wife and two children. He said the Cinco de Mayo Festival is the only event in Santa Barbara that he drives down from Buellton for, because it is a big event with activities for his whole family.
“It’s great coming down for the Cinco De Mayo Festival because I like the music and [my children] like the churros,” Aldana said.
Woody’s BBQ owner Gino Stabile said Woody’s has been involved with the Cinco de Mayo Festival for seven years. This year, Woody’s provided fresh roasted corn, lemonade and churros to event-goers from two tents set up on the De la Guerra Plaza lawn. Stabile said all proceeds from the corn sales go to Santa Barbara High School.
“We’re normally involved in most festivals in town,” Stabile said. “It’s a way to give back.”