The Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival (formerly known as the Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival) occurs annually on the second weekend in September and is held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in the renowned coastal jewel of Santa Barbara, California. Featuring handmade, ocean-themed art and genuine sea glass jewelry by dozens of talented artists from across the country, this festival is the only one of its kind in Southern California, and one of three on the west coast.
The Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival originated in August of 2015 in the tiny beach hamlet of Carpinteria, California. Inspired by similar festivals around the country, local, sea glass loving merchants, artists, and community members from across Santa Barbara County joined together and organized the first-ever Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival, aimed at celebrating both the tiny coastal community and all things sea glass.
Housed downtown in a former hardware store, sea glass artists, collectors, and enthusiasts came from all over the country, braving long lines, large crowds, and record-breaking heat without air conditioning. Despite the hot weather, everyone kept their cool and marveled at all the sea glass goodies that were available from nearly 30 sea glass artists, collectors, and historians. By the end of the weekend, the Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival was reviewed as a rousing success, with over 4,000 guests attending in its very first year!
Despite that success, the message from many guests was clear. The festival needed a new space. Too many waited in long lines in near triple-digit heat, only to face more heat inside the crowded room. Some saw the lines and simply decided to skip the event, altogether. So, wanting to make sure no one missed out on the fun and create a positive experience for all, the committee set out to find a new space in Carpinteria that would allow the festival to grow while keeping everyone comfortable and safe. Searching high and low and asking all over town, time and again, the committee hit a road block or came up empty-handed. The right space for the festival just didn’t seem to exist. The search continued, but the committee wondered, would the festival continue?
And, then, just like that, a random shopping day at a nearby flea market turned curiosity into inspiration. A committee member inquired about the space and the weekend in question, and the stars aligned, as they do in so many ocean adventure stories. Just fifteen minutes up the road, in beautiful Santa Barbara, the perfect location was waiting like a bright blue bottle stopper. Ideal in so many ways, the vote to use the Earl Warren Showgroundswas unanimous.
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