Santa Barbara’s French Festival 2012

L’Air du Temps

Red, White and Blue Eiffel!

Oak Park is the melting pot site for many of the ethnically themed festivals Santa Barbara hosts, but the French Festival is a hands-down favorite. Where else in America can you visit the Eiffel Tower, pick up a crepe and a mimosa from s street-side vendor, and catch an old school Can-Can show, complete with petticoated dancers? Without losing your bon-bons like you might in Nevada’s nod to our Freedom Brothers?

West Coast Ballet owned and operated by dance coach: Ellen Schipper

Nowhere but our own French Festival. So it’s with grande anticipation Jim and I stroll toward the embowered festivities, l’air of summer still, and in the pleasant to hot range of mid 70’s.

Perfect mix of shade and sun.

Plenty neighborhood folk are at the park already, picnicking and playing, and even tossing a few pins around to test their motor skills.

Jim, Nick, & Mark juggle with 2 Matts…oh hoh hoh…in case they fall…

Bubbles and laughter waft in our wake as we fall into the thick of it, passing revelers sporting berets and parasols, and even a few monarchs en route! The royals weren’t too pinkie-extended to stop for a photo opp, but I’d beware of posting any remarks about the Queen. She’s none other than Catherine de’Medicis herself, an Italian-born French ruler whose reputation as a poisoner proceeds her–a lot like her enemies did in death. Accompanied by an entourage that includes reluctant hubby: Henri the Third & distant cousin: Princess Margeurite de Lorraine-Vaudemont, these “scary” royals are part of: The Guilde of Sainte Marie, a non-profit historical reenactment society dedicated to the portrayal of noble class life in the 16th Century during the height of the Renaissance Period.

 Catherine de’Medicis

The friendly actress portraying Catherine de’Medicis staunchly defended the Queen as much maligned.

Henri the Third’s sister-in-law: Marguerite de Lorraine-Vaudemont, the Duchesse de Joyeuse.

She’s wearing some serious bling!

And the whole royal court!

Guilde of Sainte Marie—available for corporate and private events

The park’s mighty Oaks cast shade in all the right places—well, excepting some of the vendor kiosks—and right away, the lulling strains of Ariana Tibi fill our ears with her powerful and melodic voice.

Ariana Tibi sings as prettily as she looks–and Jean-Pierre, isn’t bad, either!

Ariana and father Jean Pierre (on acoustic guitar) have been performing in and around the Los Angeles area for the last 20 years, and it’s amazing to me that Hollywood has failed to scoop up this incredibly gifted chanteuse already. Evocative of Joan Baez, she nevertheless sang au Francais, and you’ll just have to catch the singer live, as my recording attempts came up a big fat Non.

After enjoying her set, we wandered to the more materialistic part of the festival, the vendor “fairway’ which seems to be a ubiquitous presence at most SB events. I guess we Santa Barbarans can’t get enough beef-on-a-stick, or—wait—is that escargot on a stick?

Es–Car–Got? (I think not..:)

It’s both, actually! The wide variety of refreshments fuse American and French tastes, from Belgain waffles & crepes to sandwiches & beer, and while Jim enjoys a bit of the grape, I opt for a slightly tamer way to cool off. Gelato. As my eyes wander past a kiosk crested with “Aurora Face Painting” in large letters, though, my taste for the tame vanishes, and before you can say “Monet”, I’m seated, greeted and ready to be treated!

Why are you pointing and laughing, Jimmy? Artist: Laura Hubbard is doing a fine job!

And voilà! I am beautiful dolphin girl!

Turning the other cheek…

Too bad I can’t wear this all the time! The vibrant blues and greens  of my new dolphin “pet” match my eyes better than my outfit, and I feel Westside story “pretty” as we make our way past accordion ensemble: Dix E. Hix Band to cross the bridge to the park’s other side.

Five accordions and 1 tuba sound pretty good!

The fairy wing booth is another favorite vendor I see time and again at our Santa Barbara events, and the popularity of his merchandise warms the old cockles. Not just because of my predilection for the tales “they” write, but because I think it speaks to the whimsical attitude of our township as a whole–that a purveyor of fancies is so much in demand.

…of shoes & ships, & sealing wax…of cabbages, and Kings!

SylvanWoods Fairy Wings & Magical Things offers more than just fairy styled wings–there be dragons, too! Wings of dragons, at any rate, for your inner Godzilla, as well as streamered wands, garlands, skirts and free-form flowers. Everything for the well-dressed fairy is up for grabs, each brightly-colored, delicate gauze creation handcrafted by Will Pullen and Sylvia Cochrane, and every item as frothy as the spirit they evoke. L’aire du Temps, if you will, which loosely translated means: the spirit of the times.

A phrase so downright catchy it’s the name of a popular perfume, and definitely worthy of a lapel button. Good thing there’s a handy button maker on hand to do just that! (or any other image or phrase you’d like to tout to the world)

If you write it or draw it, they can “buttonhole” it.

The family run enterprise is staffed by none other than an old writing group pal of mine: Sheila Tanksley, who, together with husband Sam and daughter Brenna, meet all the tagging needs of today’s pleasure-seeking crowd. Next time you want to button up, you’ll know where to find these locally based pinners.


After enjoying a few minutes of the music act set up on this nether stage, though, this painted lady is ready to hang up her chapeau. Time to grab a coffee in one of Santa Barbara’s many sidewalk cafés, and get back to reality with just a peu of French flavor.

Au revoir!

About Charron's Chatter

I bring to you an arrow, whole, Use it, or break it, But if you choose to take it --Know-- With it also, I will go. © Karen Robiscoe @1992

11 Responses to “Santa Barbara’s French Festival 2012”

  1. I still think you should have used the other Eiffel. 🙂 Good article, though..:)

  2. Nice assortment of photos. It makes things more interesting to read when you can “see what the words are saying,” as well.

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words! It was a pleasure to meet you. This blog is fantastic! Your photos are wonderful and captured the festivity of the day. 🙂 Keep in touch, good luck with everything!

  4. Madam thank you for the kind remarks in your post. We were pleased to have met you, and very much look forward to this magnificent festival again next year. Vive la France! – Henri III

  5. Looks like everyone were having a great time. And look at you all DOLLED up…or finned down doll finned up and down! 😀


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