EVERY SUMMER, THE MAGIC OF THE OLD WORLD washes over the idyllic city of Goleta and its surrounding communities like waves upon a sandy beach.
Modern pressures are momentarily forgotten, and in their place, vivid memories of an era long since passed come rushing to the present. Californians and visitors alike take a step out of time as they know it, and instead embody the bold, celebratory spirit of the region’s Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers.
It is at this time of year that the Old Spanish Days take over, and the spirit of Fiesta is officially in full swing.
Fiesta Ranchera is a time-honored Goleta tradition, and one of many during the region's fiesta season.
The people of Goleta—and our nearby neighbors in Santa Barbara—have carried a great sense of pride about the cultural beginnings of their home for generations. Fiesta is a celebration of those beginnings, as well as a celebration of tradition, tolerance, and comunidad. It marks the official occasion to “go all out” in expressing and exploring the origins of this unique part of California, tapping into the history of the region through food, drink, song, dance, and dress.
In Goleta, Fiesta Ranchera (set for June 20 in 2019) serves as a precursor to the eight-day Fiesta celebration that unfolds along this central coast region, drawing thousands of people from around the world to take a trip into the good ol’ days. Held at the beautiful and historic Rancho La Patera & Stow House, revelers can enjoy multiculturally-inspired appetizers, tastebud-tantalizing local wines, admire masterfully tailored traditional dress, and learn more about the numerous cultural contributions that the area’s various settlers brought to the region over time.
This historical site has a lot to do with how Goleta came to be—and has connections to the broader history of the United States.
Culture and history buffs will note that, by attending Fiesta Ranchera in Goleta, they’re getting a double dose of historical exploration thanks in large part to the location at which the event is held.
Seated in the fertile Goleta Valley, Rancho La Patera & Stow House, managed by the Goleta Valley Historical Society, has historical connections to the nation-changing Southern Pacific Railroad (William Whitney Stow, who purchased the 1,043 acre property for his son Sherman in 1871, served as legal counsel for the project) as well as to the eventual formation of the city—thanks in large part to commerce generated by the highly productive La Patera Rancho, which remains active to this day.
This historical land and structure remained the property of the highly influential Stow family well into the 1960s and has since become a community gathering place with exhibits showcasing its historical significance. Today, visitors can learn about Goleta and important figures throughout its history at the property’s Visitor and History Education Centers year-round.
Pacifica Suites allows visitors to check out another culturally significant landmark in the form of the Sexton House.
Though Goleta’s Fiesta celebration takes place over the course of a single evening, there’s no shortage of other entertaining activities to enjoy in the region.
In fact, whether you choose to stay mid-week and cap off your time in Goleta with the Fiesta Ranchera, or to come down for a weekend trip, summer marks the perfect opportunity to investigate Goleta’s other historical and cultural offerings. Consider exploring the Stow House’s Education Center mentioned above, or head over to the South Coast Railroad Museum, where you can learn even more about the connection between the Stow family and the Southern Pacific Railroad, as well as Goleta’s history and its impact on the nation.
For yet another extra dose of history, consider booking your stay at Pacifica Suites, which allows its guests to view the sprawling Italianate house of the ecologically and economically influential Sexton Family as one of its various amenities. Like the Stow family, members of the Sexton family produced crops and contributed to cultural aspects of American history that remain fascinating to this day.
Beyond its breathtaking beauty and the exciting cultural opportunities described herein, there is much about Goleta worthy of exploration—so much more than immediately meets the eye.
Fortunately, the region benefits from the passion of a few good historians and conservationists at the Goleta Valley Historical Society, who have worked to preserve the region’s historical artifacts and provide residents and visitors alike with an insider’s view of the many political, economic and cultural factors that came together to make Goleta the special place it is today.
Learn more about Fiesta Ranchera, Goleta’s classic properties, and about key exhibits in the region by visiting the Goleta Valley Historical Society’s website, or by contacting them via the information provided on this page.