Three important annual events in the Tri-Counties appear to have had successful runs this summer.
Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days drew record crowds at its parades, mercados at De la Guerra Plaza and MacKenzie Park and at its rodeos from July 30 to Aug. 3, organizers said.
While they haven’t yet added up all the numbers, the main Fiesta parade drew some 100,000 spectators – twice the number in 2007, which was hurt by falling ash from the Zaca Fire.
This year, mostly blue skies greeted Fiesta fans from around the world.
The large turnout is great news for the many nonprofit groups that generate revenue by selling food and drinks during Fiesta.
The annual celebration of Santa Barbara’s heritage also brings many shoppers to the South Coast and helps fill the area’s hotels, motels and bed and breakfast inns.
Along with the weather, a key to this year’s Fiesta was security. Old Spanish Days last year was marred by a State Street stabbing death.
While arrests increased this year at Fiesta events, few serious incidents were reported by the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and private security guards. The presence of so much security undoubtedly helped keep the peace.
Meanwhile, in steamy Paso Robles, the Mid-State Fair drew huge crowds to watch its rodeo and listen to performers such as John Mayer, Rod Stewart, Toby Keith, Steely Dan, Matchbox Twenty and Boz Scaggs.
The fair also provides a boost to the San Luis Obispo County economy as the growing number of hotels are filled by fans who come from all over the state for the annual event, which took place July 23 to Aug. 3.
Organizers still were trying to tabulate ticket sales this week as the Business Times went to press.
Not to be outdone, the 133rd seaside Ventura County Fair is trying for the fifth consecutive year to attract more than 300,000 visitors and top last year’s attendance of 309,943. The fair runs from July 30 to Aug. 10.
The key attractions at the Ventura fair included the Doobie Brothers, Sara Evans, the Beach Boys, Suzanne Somers, Trace Adkins, Raven Symone and its rodeo.
Attendance reports prove that even in a slow economy, Californians will pay not only for entertainment but also the gas money to get there.