By Jan Siegel
Mark your calendars now for a rare opportunity to take a step back in time and enjoy a fun-filled day in our historic community.
The Third Annual Fiesta Days at the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society is set to take place Saturday, May 7. This year, the program will be accompanied by a celebration of National Preservation Week presented by the Cultural Heritage Commission on Los Rios Street—the oldest residential street in California. The Fiesta Days event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free to the public.
Fiesta Days is a community outreach program for the historical society and includes demonstrations, exhibits, crafts and piñatas. Bea Torres will once again demonstrate her skill at making tortillas and salsa from scratch. Bob Minty will return with more amazing whaling memorabilia, stories and sea shanties played on the concertina. Nineteenth century games and Native American artifacts will also be available.
Children of all ages will have the opportunity to make shell bracelets and cornhusk dolls, weave baskets and play with piñatas. Attendees will also have the opportunity to guess the use for household items that were common in the 19th century.
In honor of Mother’s Day, the Leck House will showcase an exhibit on the women of San Juan Capistrano. Beautifully stitched clothing and artifacts from some of the founding families of our historic town will be on display, in addition to life-size cutouts of some of our notable women. Who knows, you may be able to take a photo with your great-great-grandmother or distant cousin! The O’Neill Museum will be open for guests to see our vast array of local history books, our amazing photographic collection and our old fans from the historic women in San Juan Capistrano.
The Montanez Adobe will also be open, and local historian Ilse Byrnes will be back retelling the story of Polonia Montanez—town midwife, catechism teacher and rainmaker.
The Cultural Heritage Commission will have docents at the Rios Adobe, Los Rios Park and the gardens of the Tea House. Come and see the new proposed plans for the Native American village at the Northwest Open Space site.
Members of Spurs and Satin, a local 1880s reenactment group, will also be roaming the historic district in their period clothing handing out fliers and adding to the historic atmosphere.
This opportunity comes but once a year to spend a “Moment in Time” and appreciate our history, our culture and our community. So come and participate at this year’s Fiesta Days in historic San Juan Capistrano.
Jan Siegel is a 27-year resident of San Juan Capistrano. She served on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission for 13 years and has been a volunteer guide for the San Juan Capistrano Friends of the Library’s architectural walking tour for 17 years. She was named Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 2005, Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and was inducted into the city’s Wall of Recognition in 2007.