Saturday, February 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on July 5th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 18 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 18

Santa Barbara County Fair features local groups at the Sun Center Stage


The Santa Barbara County Fair is well known for the big-name acts that grace the Main Stage, and for good reason. The likes of LeAnne Rimes and John Michael Montgomery will be stars of the show on that stage, but it’s not the only one featuring live music at the fair.

The Sun Center Stage will host several local bands this year, along with performances by local dance troupes and traveling performers.

Steppin’ Out, voted Santa Maria’s favorite band, will take the Sun Center Stage on opening day, July 12.

Opening the show at the Sun Center Stage on July 12 is Steppin’ Out, the local dance band that has won Best Band in our annual readers poll many times. Lead singer and founder Mike Ariolla said he was looking forward to seeing the crowd at the show when Steppin’ Out takes the stage.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “There is a big area right in front of the stage for dancing, and that’s what we like to see, is people dancing. Whether it’s a slow song or fast song, it’s just people enjoying the music.”

Other featured performers on the Sun Center Stage include Ricky Montijo and the Mojitos, based out of the five cities area, and Burnin’ James and the Funky Flames from Paso Robles.

The Sun Center Stage is accessible in the middle of the Santa Maria Fairpark among vendors, activities, and other booths. There’s seating and room for dancing, as Ariolla said, with room for many people.

Akusaa will perform her live acoustic music at the Santa Barbara County Fair’s CoastHills Wine Tasting Bar, providing a relaxing tone for wine sippers.

“Whether it’s for a hundred people or a thousand people, we give them the same show we would either case,” Ariolla said. “And for the most part, these shows are family oriented. We have a lot of people who follow us who see us in night clubs, but in this case, it’s bring the whole family.”

The CoastHill Wine Tasting Bar will also feature live local talent at the Santa Barbara County Fair this year.

That venue is indoors, and features singer/songwriters over blasting dance bands. One such performer is Akusaa, who is used to playing her music at local wine tasting rooms.

“I really, really enjoy more of a mature audience,” Akusaa said. “I’m very picky where I play and I’m more about mature adults and elegance—I’m all about elegance.”

The wine tasting area will include a number of local wines, so elegance will definitely be a part of the experience.

Make it out
The Santa Barbara County Fair features local bands and singer/songwriters performing live on the Sun Center Stage and at the CoastHills Wine Tasting Bar each day July 12 through 16 at the Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg, Santa Maria. More info: or 925-8824.

Akusaa said that wine drinkers usually enjoy her style, which includes 70’s soft rock, R&B, jazz, and Spanish ballads. She said she hopes to create a “welcome retreat” at the fair from the big crowds where locals can enjoy wine paired with her music.

“My music, it takes them back to either good or bad memories, it’s sentimental,” she said. “They engage and sing along. It’s really great to see the reactions of people when you bring out that music.”

Managing Editor Joe Payne enjoys music indoors or outdoors. Contact him at

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