Centennial celebrated for Kern County Fair

Joshua Fisher, Reporter

The Kern County Fair just finished celebrating its 100th year in Bakersfield. In celebration, the fair not only had many of the usual attractions but also renewed itself with new rides, competitions, more room for the concert-goers, and fireworks each night.

Indeed, it would be hard to miss the flashes that lit up the sky above the fairgrounds during each evening, especially when the headliners played their songs through the night.

The official birth of the Kern County Fair was on Aug. 5, 1916. It was located on 106 acres at Chester Avenue, two blocks north of 34th Street and just south of the Kern River Bridge. There were no buildings on the location at that time, so they used tents.

It was during the 1950s that the Kern County Fair moved to its current location, the fairgrounds. The fair currently is one of the biggest and longest-lasting in the state. Back in 1917 the fair was a five-day event. In 1967 it was extended to a nine-day event, in 1979 it was extended again to 11 days and during 1983, the fair was extended to 12 days.

One of the vendors who has been around a while, Joseph Parkhurst, creator of the JP’s Old West Cinnamon Rolls. He said his sweets are a top seller and sold 130,000 in the last few years as a fair vendor.

A mob of people always line up to buy boxes of his cinnamon rolls to take home. He said it’s the last building they close at the fair every year.

Bakersfield College was well-represented at the fair with the Student Government Association holding Renegade Day, and many students wore “We Are BC” T-shirts while attending. One student, Celeste Borja, worked at Old Time Photos, which she has done at the last three fairs.

Borja’s aunt worked in the face painting booth right next door.

“Working at the fair as a student is exhausting because the fair is so busy, and she says this year there is more people than ever, and they are crazier than ever this year,” Borja said.