BC annual Garden Fest ready to bloom

Zach Sullivan, Reporter

Bakersfield College’s annual Garden Fest will feature more booths and people than ever before, as well as benefit students in attendance by providing them the opportunity to make connections with future employers and apply for both paid and unpaid internships, said Sally Sterns, a horticulture technician at Bakersfield College. Garden Fest, which according to Sterns was started by her and fellow agriculture professor Lindsay Ono in 2006, which will take place April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bakersfield College. This year’s event will consist of roughly 150 vendors, and is expected to surpass last year’s mark of 6,000 people in attendance, Sterns said.

According to Sterns, Garden Fest will benefit not only agriculture students but students in all fields who choose to attend. “Garden Fest is an event that will help any BC student. I tell them to treat it like a job fair. All agriculture students should attend; however, with all of the other vendors we have, including non-profits, every student should come,” she said.

When asked what is different about this year’s event than previous years in her opinion, Sterns pointed to the increased number of vendors who will be in attendance. “I think the added number of vendors. This is the first time In 12 years where a month in advance I had sold out all of our booth spaces, so we had to get creative and add some more space,” she said. “So we did, and that’s going to be unusual. Also, I had people contacting me saying, ‘I heard about the event, I’m a crafter, I do this or I sell that,’ and I never solicited them, so for the first time I have people who have not been solicited to come to the event just call me out of the blue and say, ‘hey, I gotta be there.’”

Sterns pointed to the student’s ability to network with potential future employers and talk to people in the industry or field they are looking into as another benefit for those who attend. “These people are always looking for employees, and students receive internships and even paid positions just from going around that day and talking to different vendors, so we always encourage them to come and treat it like a job fair. You never know when that one conversation is going to pay off later on,” she said. Sterns said seeing the excitement students get from growing plants from seeds to full grown, sellable plants is one of numerous things she enjoys about Garden Fest.

“I think the most exciting thing is watching our students, we ask them to come out and volunteer that day and some of them have done it multiple years, but the majority of them have not been involved in an activity like this, and they take such pride in what they’ve been doing, and they have so much fun that day.” “They’ve worked hard all semester and this is their big payoff, they get a lot out of it and they enjoy it,” Sterns said.

Sterns said she expects Garden Fest to continue to grow each year, and is extremely proud the event is self-sustaining and growing as quickly as it is. “Garden Fest has given BC as a whole a lot of publicity, which I think Is a good thing not only for us, but the campus as a whole. We’ve had more and more BC departments and clubs get involved and I think that makes the event even better than before, it’s not just us plant geeks, its everyone on campus.”

Garden Fest is free to attend, and free parking will be provided to those in attendance in the northeast side of the football stadium as well as by the Fine Arts building.