Fiesta Rodeo gallops into its 98th year


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The annual Fiesta Rodeo wrapped up Sunday evening. 

Crowds passionately cheered as cowboys galloped into the arena of Earl Warren Showgrounds on their beloved horses. 

“It’s a great tradition and so wonderful to be live again after 2 years of dark,” said Lynn Kirst, who is Saint Barbara 2022 for Old Spanish Days. 

This Fiesta Stock Horse Show is now in its 98th year, but the enthusiasm has not died down. 

“It’s a full house. I saw everyone stacked up outside coming in and it’s great they’re coming out and enjoying this. And then we’ll be back next year before you know it,” added First. 

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“We’re here celebrating the Western heritage. Cowboys are strong in Santa Barbara County, so we wanted that to keep being something that’s always here,” said horse trainer Tony Bonello. 

For many Santa Barbara County residents like Rodeo Chairman Josiah Jenkins, a love of horses has been built into his DNA. 

“Some of us have grown up in the dirt and enjoy it all the way. We don’t know what to do with the playground. Our playground’s the mountainside, a grassy hill or a dirt arena,” said Jenkins.

This way of life represents Santa Barbara’s rich ranching history. 

“It hearkens back to our ranching past, the Rancho Era and California. And so people love to see the beautiful horses and see the tradition and see the the abilities of these cowboys and cowgirls to still carry on the ranch work that’s actually still done on local cattle ranches,” said Kirst

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Lynn Kirst has been riding horses since she was just 2 years old. 

A childhood memory is now a passion that bonds her to other horse enthusiasts. 

“I come out each year to watch my friends compete and many of these people I ride with on a regular basis. So it’s wonderful to see,” said Kirst. 

The Fiesta Rodeo tradition is here to stay, with people of all ages participating in the show and cheering on from the stands. 


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