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In the 1920s, the very heart of Santa Barbara County was agricultural, and much of the area remains so today.

An article in the La Habra Star, October 11, 1929, provides an excellent description of the valleys of Santa Barbara County, California, and the ways they were developed by farmers and ranchers one hundred years ago. Much of what is described here remains so today, though the burgeoning rubber plant industry faded with time.

 

Versatile Valleys

Diversified in its geography, versatile in its crops, varied in its industries, Santa Barbara County is a land of richness, of prosperity, of opportunity….It is a land of wide-open spaces, of rolling brown hills, of sheltered inland valleys, of level table-lands and mesas, of miles of coastal sand dunes.

Almost countless are the crops raised in Santa Barbara County. Here is grown barley, lettuce, dry onions, tomatoes, pea, cauliflower, carrots, alfalfa, beans (a pink and white species, as well as the lima), guayule (a rubber plant), sub-tropical fruits.

Not content with raising these many crops, Santa Barbara County residents devote themselves to sundry industries: dairying, beef-cattle production, the raising of flowers for world-wide distribution.

Because Santa Barbara County  has so many geographical divisions within itself, is so topographically diverse, each inland valley is best suited to the rising of certain agricultural productions, to the development of particular industries. To understand the County as a whole, it might be best to observe its natural divisions, take each section individually….

 

Santa Ynez Valley – From the City of Santa Barbara, one goes up over the San Marcos Pass, arrives into he Santa Ynez Valley. Rugged, covered with splendid trees, is the upper part of this valley; ranches are on all sides, thousands of acres in size, devoted to beef-cattle production, horse-raising.

Named by a colony of Danish farmers who settled in the Santa Ynez Valley several decades ago is the little central town of Solvang. Almost like a transplanted Danish community is this portion of the valley; its crops, buildings, equipment, herds–are all tidy in the way characteristic of the Dane, neat, thrifty, painstakingly clean.

Lompoc Valley – Dedicated in great measure to flower-raising is this valley, shortly to the north and west of the Santa Ynez. Spring and autumnn here finds gorgeously-had blossoms in abundance on the sloping hills, level meadows. From these fragrant flowers are secured seeds for distribution throughout the world….

Santa Maria Valley – Largest and most productive of all the agricultural districts of Santa Barbara County is the Santa Maria Valley; approached by winding upward through the hills beyond Lompoc Valley, Guadalupe, at the valley’s mouth, is the packing and shipping center for miles around; three miles it is from the ocean, three miles of a desert local so like the African Sahara in miniature that Hollywood motion picture companies constantly wend their way north bringing screen stars of renown, adding occasional zest to the farming routine.

…Santa Maria Valley has large areas devoted to dahlias, gladiolas, other flowers…alfalfa, truck produce, dairy products.

The tomatoes and lettuce that one eats late in the season are usually from Santa Maria….

Much alfalfa hay remains at home, maintains the dairy cattle. Finest herds: Captain G. Allan Hancock’s Rosemary Farm, the Acquistapace Brothers’ the Knudsen Creamery, the JW Poison Ranch, the Santa Bargia Creamery. Holsteins predominate.

Santa Barbara County may some day rival the South American countries as a rubber-producing region. Now being grown for experimentation is the guayule, a plant which demands little attention, little water, but from which rubber can be extracted. Hundreds of acres near Sisquoc are already plated with guayule…

 

Old Spanish Days – Fiesta

Santa Barbara County will celebrate Old Spanish Days from August 3 – 7, 2022. The four-day event returns after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. The City of Santa Barbara welcomes tens of thousands of visitors who come for the parades, the rodeo, the food, dancing, and music.

A history of Old Spanish Days is offered by Erin Graffy de Garcia, local historian, in an article published by Noozhawk in 2017. Ms. Graffy de Garcia advises that the celebration celebrates the “Rancho period” of Santa Barbara County’s history.

Ms. Graffy de Garcia writes, “‘Our Fiesta includes the patronage of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and the participation of and presentations by the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation. This is what is meant by ‘unity through community.'”

The Fiesta tradition began in 1924. In June of 1925, a devastating earthquake wrecked much of downtown Santa Barbara, including the old courthouse. While citizens considered canceling the event scheduled for August of that year, a decision was made to go on with the celebration. They did so with much success.

Old Spanish Days and The Santa Barbara County Courthouse

In August of 1929, the current Santa Barbara County Courthouse was completed. The iconic jewel was dedicated in a public event during Old Spanish Days in 1929.

From the Calexico Chronicle, August 2, 1929:

Opening with the dedication of the new $1,500,000 Spanish type courthouse on the afternoon of August 14…Santa Barbara will celebrate again for four days its old Spanish Days Fiesta with free dances and public attractions.

Governor CC Young and state officers of Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West will attend the dedication and remain for the Old Spanish Days. Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford and a host of other movie stars attend the fiesta every year informally.

Within the next few days, practically all of the citizens here will don Spanish costumes. More than 1000 characters, Indians, ’49ers, Fremont’s soldiers, pirates, and Spanish vaqueros will be seen in the historical parade on Thursday, August 15.

Blooded horses from famous ranchos will appear in the parade.

Two of the Southern Pacific’s oldest locomotives will be used in the re-enactment of the arrival of the first train in Santa Barbara. Several hundred characters will take part in the pageant Saturday afternoon.

On Friday afternoon, the Ruiz-Botello pageant will be given in the patio of the new courthouse. This pageant is given by two of the oldest Spanish families in California. There will be singing and dancing and general merry-making.

On Thursday and Saturday nights, the pageant, Romantic California, in which 300 characters take part will be given.

Old Spanish Days – 1925

The magazine, California Southland, published an article entitled, Old Spanish Days in Flower in Santa Barbara, While the article does not refer to the rancho days that Ms. Graffey de Garcia describes as the impetus for the celebration, the article cites “…the sweet romance of Spain.”

“To no other community the West has it been vouchsafed to retain traditions, memories, customs and delightful conventions of the early Spanish days in the sense that it has been given Santa Barbara, and she has received and held the trust sacredly.”

The photos of that long ago Fiesta are lovely.