Some second-graders tried covering their ears in futile attempts to muffle the steady stream of honks blaring from a huge piece of farming equipment Tuesday at the 29th annual Farm Day in the City event.
But they soon joined the masses of children taking turns climbing the more than 12-foot-tall Quadtrac blasting the sound as students themselves honked the horn.
The Quadtrac, used to prep farm land, was last in a line of equipment that included a bale wagon, two tractors, two balers and a helicopter at the Kern County Fairgrounds.
The machinery and 36 livestock, garden, dairy, farm and conservation exhibits drew about 2,200 second-, third- and fourth-grade students to the fairgrounds.
The two-day-long Farm Day, an agriculture education outgrowth of the Kern County Farm Bureau, is the largest annual bureau education event the 53 county farm bureaus throughout California organize. Ben McFarland, executive director of the local farm bureau, said about 2,300 students are expected to attend Wednesday's events.
Amanda Shelton, a second-grade teacher at William Penn School, said the event gives students an opportunity to see live animals in person and not in textbooks.
"A lot of these kids live in the city, and they don't get the chance to see live horses, cows..." Shelton said.
Rosa Gandara, a second-grade teacher at Jefferson School, said her students are learning math terminology but seeing the forms -- such as the three vertices of a triangular track and the cylindrical shape of a catalyst chamber -- brings their schoolwork to life.
"This has been what they've been waiting for," she said. "It is an experience of a lifetime."
Fourth-graders at Wayside School, a K-5 campus in walking distance of the fairgrounds, listed the facts they learned at the fair such as byproducts of cattle like toothpaste, deodorant and leather, different colors of potatoes and that avocados are fruits.
Second-graders Alyia Bowles, Natalie Espinoza, Faith Gallegos and Emelyn Moran said their favorite aspects of the Farm Day were exhibits that involved animals in herding, roping and petting activities.
Emelyn, a William Penn student, said she touched the wool of a sheep.
"It was soft," she said. "It feels like our clothing."
Jenny Martinez, 8, said she saw a dog and horse herding sheep and cattle.
"It smelled nasty," she added.
A demonstration in which ranchers roped cattle was a crowd favorite Tuesday.
Sage Twisselman, a sixth-generation rancher of the Carneros Cow Camp near McKittrick, said her family has been participating in the Farm Day event for at least 20 years.
She showed students how to rope and push cattle and loosen the muscles of horses, but by afternoon she and her family (four generations of ranchers) flocked to Harvest Hall for lunch.
Mcray, her 1-year-old nephew, crawled on the floor in jeans and a cowboy hat while Twisselman described the first time she saw her grandfather (who turns 83 Wednesday) ride and rope.
"Being able to live the life of a rancher, I'm just lucky," Twisselman said.
Her dad raised and trained each of the family's about 25 horses and taught her to fix fences, install water lines for troughs and build spring boxes to trap natural water for the troughs. They fed cattle and trained horses.
Twisselman said that the lessons of hard work and appreciation that many children outside of the rural lifestyle miss are the ones she cherishes.
"A lot of kids, their parents go out and buy them really expensive horses," Twisselman said.
"My dad taught us everything we've known," she added.