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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 10:38 am | Fair 68º


Spirit, Junior Spirit of Fiesta Hail From Santa Ynez Valley

Free flamenco dance performance June 8

Solvang native Jesalyn McCollum is this year’s Spirit of Fiesta.
Solvang native Jesalyn McCollum is this year’s Spirit of Fiesta. (Barry Sigman)

North County area residents can celebrate with this year’s Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta, who both live in the Santa Ynez Valley, when they dance in a free performance at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, at Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church.

Georgey Taupin of Santa Ynez is 2018 Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
Georgey Taupin of Santa Ynez is 2018 Junior Spirit of Fiesta. (Barry Sigman)

The showcase is sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Star, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, and the church.

Spirit of Fiesta Jesalyn McCollum, 17, of Solvang, and Junior Spirit Georgey Taupin, 10, of Santa Ynez, were chosen April 15 after auditions at La Cumbre Junior High School in Santa Barbara.

“I have worked my entire life for this moment, and it finally came true,” McCollum said. “I can’t even put into words how happy and thrilled I am.”

McCollum and Taupin said they are excited to represent the Santa Ynez Valley and hope their participation draws more valley residents to this year’s events.

“We are so proud of both Jesalyn and Georgey, and we hope that the valley turns out to see them perform and hopefully attend several Fiesta events to support them,” said Raiza Giorgi, publisher of the Star.

“We are so thankful to the Presbyterian Church for donating their space so we can make this a fun, free community event,” she said.

The dancing will take place under the church awning, and people are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. California Tacos’ food truck will be selling food before and after the event.

This year marks the 94th edition of Fiesta, which runs Aug. 1-5.

McCollum started dancing flamenco when she was three years old with Garcia Dance Studio in Lompoc. She then moved to the Linda Vega studio whens she was six. She was the 2012 Junior Spirit of Fiesta and is now a professional dancer with Flamenco Santa Barbara.

She spends four to eight hours a day dancing and teaching flamenco. McCollum has made five trips to Spain to train, and taken summer intensive courses at the University of New Mexico. She plans to attend the University of New Mexico, majoring in business and flamenco.

She hopes to then return home and open her own studio.

“I live for dancing, and flamenco just speaks to me,” McCollum said. “The music, the beats, the performance, I love everything about it.”

Junior Spirit Taupin has been dancing for five years and trains at Zermeno Dance Academy in Santa Barbara. She started flamenco because of two friends and found she has a great passion for the dance as well.

Her parents, Bernie and Heather Taupin, are friends of the McCollums because they both homeschool their children.

Other Fiesta preview events include:

Fiesta Ranchera, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at Rancho La Patera in Goleta; La Recepcion de la Presidenta, 5-10 p.m. Sunday, July 29, at DoubleTree by Hilton; and Old Spanish Days annual costume sale, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, July 7, at the Carriage and Western Art Museum.

For more information, log onto www.oldspanishdays-fiesta.org.

— Raiza Giorgi for Santa Ynez Valley Star.


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