The Junior Spirit of this year’s Old Spanish Days is Talia Ortega Vestal, and she couldn’t be better suited for the title. Vestal first encountered Fiesta when she was three years old, selling avocados in De la Guerra Plaza in front of her father’s office. From behind the avocado stand, Vestal sighted her calling: “I literally had to grab her to keep her from running up on the stage to join the dancers,” said her mother Diana.

Talia Ortega Vestal
Paul Wellman

Although she wasn’t able to make it onto the stage just then, Vestal insisted that she could dance, and began training with Linda Vega the next year at only four years old. At the same time, Candi Cruz, the creative force behind Vestal’s Fiesta costumes and dresses, began designing and sewing for her. After practicing ballet for two years, Vestal switched to flamenco and has been perfecting her technique ever since. Vestal’s title as the Junior Spirit is the result of her dedication and investment in dancing and in Fiesta-this is her third year trying out, and she receives this accolade as “a tremendous joy and honor.”

Outside of dancing, Vestal attends Marymount of Santa Barbara, where she enjoys art and practicing volleyball and tennis-as if dancing weren’t enough.


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