'The community is closer here': Kern County Fair has everything for everyone

·3 min read

Sep. 22—The routine can get old for longtime fair concession workers, ride handlers and animal exhibitioners traveling to county fairs every few months only to rinse and repeat.

But longtime food stand owners — each with decades of experience — all said the Kern County Fair stands out for one reason, hours before its opening Wednesday.

"I can feel the community is closer here," said Carlos Ledezma, the owner of Aguas Frescas, located near the main stage. His menu boasts churros, tacos and refreshing horchata to swallow it all down.

"I love the families that come here," added Michael Compton, owner of Willamette Valley Pie Co. "That's what really drives us to (keep) coming back to this fair."

The turquoise-blue truck serving pies, cobblers, cookies and ice cream missed out on the Kern County Fair last year, but it's back to serve its signature dishes that feature fruits from Oregon. Popular concoctions include marionberry pies and a cobbler pieced together from five kinds of berries.

"This may change your life," Compton said of the marionberry pie slices. Indeed, the tart fruit cut through the sweet, gooey fillings of the cobbler and delighted guests.

Seven new food vendors are populating the fair's scene, including: Nov's Soul Spot, a downtown restaurant serving soul food; Juicy's, known for traditional fair foods such as turkey legs and funnel cakes; Mama Marines, which whips up Mexican food; and West Coast Churros. Alcoholic beverages will be available for those who acquire a wristband at one of the booths that are checking IDs.

One new concession is Pacific Create Hawaiian Teriyaki, which is serving teriyaki noodles, rice and chicken with a special sauce created by owner Nathan Wells' father, who once worked in a sauce factory.

"We're just trying to keep the family business alive," Wells said, adding the fair is a happy place to be.

In addition to the food, there will be a number of entertainers, too.

Local talent, including dancing and singing performances, will be featured at the KC Lane Stage. Times are listed at KernCountyFair.com.

And of course, animals and livestock are a big part of the fair experience.

Chelsey Roberts, the fair's marketing representative, joked with reporters about the duck races and encouraged residents to take part when it's allowed.

"It's the funniest thing you can watch," Roberts giggled.

A petting zoo of goats, sheep and heifers returns this year, ready to be shown and enjoyed by kids. COVID-19 concerns precluded their participation at last year's fair.

Competitions for this year's animals already were underway Wednesday. Remick McFedridge, 6, attempted to guide her goat, Donald Duck, on a red leash — but it seemed the 7-month-old wanted to go its own way.

"She doesn't like her feet touched," explained Remick, who was competing for the first time this year. She loves playing with her animals, which chase her, she said.

But Remick reined in Donald Duck just enough to proudly showcase her other goat, Charm, to reporters.

And then off she went to compete.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @_ishanidesai on Twitter.