Those headed downtown Saturday should expect to be surrounded by dozens of spirited and costumed people, running around and performing goofy physical feats for Bakersfield's version of the Amazing Race.
Not affiliated with the popular reality TV competition, the event is a chance for participants to test their problem-solving and physical challenge skills for a $1,000 prize. The fun kicks off at 11 a.m. with registration at Stewards Inc., the organization behind the fundraising event.
"Andrae Gonzales, Stewards Inc. executive director, gave birth to the idea of doing a fundraiser for Stewards Inc. in the form of a race through the downtown area that is part scavenger hunt and part obstacle course,"said Gerald Cantu, the nonprofit's chief programs officer and homeless advocate.
Gonzales and his team researched similar races around the country, finally consulting with Berkeley-based CitySolve Urban Race for the local competition to develop the race's 12 clues and 12 challenges.
As of Tuesday, there were more than 40 teams signed up and the race can accommodate up to 75. Cantu said teams of two to four players can still register until 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the starting line.
Before the race kicks off, teams have a chance at an early victory with the costume contest at 11:30 a.m. With team names like Minions, Sole Mates, Covert Action, French Toast Mafia and Valley Fever, there's no telling what the costumes will entail, but there is a $300 prize on the line. The winner will be selected by participants via a poll text, although Cantu did not have all the details as of Tuesday. Costumes are not required but highly encouraged, Cantu noted.
At noon, teams will be given 12 clues, which, once solved, will lead them to 12 locations in downtown Bakersfield. Clues could include cryptograms and other word puzzles. (See accompanying box for samples.)
Cantu said people shouldn't worry about not being able to figure out the clues.
"I would say they are moderate, in between moderate and easy. We don't want to make it too challenging. We want the average contestant to be able to solve the clues."
Teams will need at least one smartphone per team, to help solve clues, map locations and photograph themselves completing challenges. Other requirements include $5 to purchase items for charity along the race route and a bag to carry them.
Although strategy is up to each group, Cantu had a recommendation: "It would be prudent to solve all the clues up front."
Teams can head to locations in whatever order they choose. At each site, volunteers will be on hand to make sure they understand the physical challenge at each location.
Although tight-lipped on most details, Cantu said the feats are similar to those seen on the TV show "Minute to Win It." (For those not familiar with the NBC program, sample challenges have included balancing pastries on one's forehead, stacking cards or cans and bouncing pingpong balls or coins into glasses.)
Contestants must document the completion of each task with a smartphone photo that features everyone in the group to prevent the teams from dividing up and completing tasks separately, Cantu said.
When the tasks are completed, teams will gather at the finish line at On the Rocks around 5 p.m. While waiting for the results, participants can rest and enjoy free hors d'ouevres, beverages and music.
Awards will be given out at the ceremony, with the top three teams winning $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively.
Proceeds from the event will support Stewards Inc.'s main mission, which is assisting those on disability or retirement incomes with managing their finances.
"We ensure that their income is used toward housing, food, clothing, payment of utilities and bills and their comfort," Cantu said. "We're like their social workers. We encourage them to become financially independent. That's our end goal."
With plans to make this the nonprofit's annual fundraiser -- replacing a clay shoot -- Cantu said a lot of hard work and planning has gone into the race. But he looks forward to a great turnout for the inaugural race.
"We suggest they come dressed in costumes, well-rested and ready to have fun!"