By Raiza Giorgi
Sagunto Street was packed as people eagerly awaited the Old Santa Ynez Day parade, which many people in Santa Ynez consider the unofficial start of summer.
“I love watching the horses and getting my face painted,” said Madeline Jones, 6, of Arroyo Grande, who came with her mom and little sister for their first time at the festivities on June 9.
The 54th annual celebration shut down the main block in Santa Ynez and was lined with vendor booths selling everything from stylish cowboy hats to garden art, jewelry, handbags, food and more. Children lined up to get their faces painted or hands tattooed with henna, get a sip of lemonade from Los Olivos Lemons or eat a tri-tip sandwich from the Solvang Rotary Club.
The parade hosted flamenco and Spanish-style dancers from Garcia Dance Studio, baby goats from Lucky Clover 4-H Club, tractors and wagons, horses and their riders, classic cars and the Old Santa Ynez Day jail.
Those who were not wearing an official festival badge were thrown into the jail after the parade and had to “pay the fine” of $5 to get out.
The grand marshal for this year’s parade was saddle maker Juan Lara Jr., who was featured in the Star’s previous issue.
Juan Lara Saddlery originated in Santa Barbara in the 1970s. Juan Sr. and his father, also Juan Lara, began as saddle makers at Jedlicka’s Saddlery. Juan Jr. began working at the shop with his dad and grandfather at the age of 11, in the afternoons after school. By the time he was a young man, he was making saddles alongside them and honing his craft.
He moved the shop from Ortega Street in Santa Barbara to the big red barn in Santa Ynez in 2006 and lives just down the street with his wife, son and daughter.
“Santa Ynez is such a great place to be, and to raise kids. I love living here and I love having so many good friends stop by the shop to visit every day,” he said.
Folks at the festival also wandered down to the Maverick Saloon for the saloon’s first pig roast. New owners Jimmy and Karen Lozoides hosted several live bands throughout the evening.
Another tradition during Old Santa Ynez Day is the “Jones Fest” at Karen Jones’ house on Edison Street. The historic home is opened up for the day and bands play into the night. The potluck style shindig is always free to the public.
For more information on Old Santa Ynez Day, log onto www.syvelks.com.