• Oak, manzanita, toyon, sage and penstemon in an island at Steve Kranyak's Rosedale home. "Trying to conquer the weekly work of mowing, fertilizing, chemicals, the bugs — that's been my goal," he said.

    Love for native plants taking root with sale, presentation

    When Steve Kranyak planted his first landscape 25 years ago, he was inspired not by the plants and trees at local nurseries or the cookie-cutter lawns of his neighbors, but the oaks and manzanitas he saw in the mountains. “I wondered why couldn’t you plant those,” said the Bakersfield resident, 56.

  • Children chase confetti at the end of the Oildorado Grand Parade in 2000. The city celebrated its 90th birthday that year. This year's 10-day celebration kicks off Oct. 9.

    Pardon us while we gush: It's Oildorado Days!

    The oil industry is an up-and-down business with more downs than ups of late, but you wouldn’t know it from all the gushing going on in Kern County’s oil capital of Taft, on the eve of the town’s every-five-years Oildorado celebration. “Taft is not without its problems, but we’re small enough

  • Ray Wylie Hubbard co-headlines the 99 Music Fest on Oct. 10 at Cal State Bakersfield. “If I hadn’t been a songwriter, I wouldn’t have these gnarly old stories, which gave me the adventures I had in my life," the Texas icon told The Californian. "How does a barefoot kid in overalls from rural southeastern Oklahoma end up at 66 on Letterman? How did that happen?”

    Up against the wall, Bakersfield: Hubbard headlines 99 Music Fest

    Like insolent teenagers defying their old man, the music towns of Bakersfield and Austin are the family rebels of country music, a world away in miles, taste and style from their distant Nashville father. Like Bakersfield, Austin is more soulful than slick, more raw than refined. Like Bakersfield,

  • Sam Outlaw performs Oct. 10 at the 99 Music Fest at Cal State Bakersfield.

    99 Music Fest: This Outlaw is quickly becoming a wanted man

    Sam Outlaw had good news on Monday and was stoked. “They announced the lineup for Stagecoach 2016 and I’m playing the festival on Saturday, April 30,” Outlaw wrote of the renowned, and growing, music festival in Indio. This boy — Outlaw is a boyish 33 — is on his way up. Catch him while you still

  • Keren Martin of Bakersfield works on her drawing during a prior Via Arte festival at The Marketplace.

    Chalk it up to fun and talent at Via Arte

    The annual Via Arte sidewalk chalk festival — with more than 80 artists and 138 squares — will transform a retail center’s parking lot into an extraordinary open air gallery this weekend. “Via Arte is our biggest fundraiser, but (it’s) also our largest public art exhibition,” said Bakersfield

  • Clifton Murray, Remigio Pereira, Victor Micallef and Fraser Walters are the Tenors.

    CESAREO GARASA: Tenors coming to Bakersfield on a high note

    At first glance, the members of the vocal quartet the Tenors look like they stepped straight out of Frank Sinatra’s 1960s Vegas Rat Pack. The dapper thirty-somethings — Remigio Pereira, Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters and Clifton Murray — each have their own musical leanings, Walters and Murray in

  • Randy Messick directs the cast of "Henry IV, Part I" at Bakersfield College. The BC teacher was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in 2011. Although he decided to continue at BC full time when he finished his studies, Messick also became pastor of St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Shafter.

    Parting is such sweet sorrow for BC Shakespeare Festival adviser

    Part of the performer’s art is knowing when to take that final bow. Kern Shakespeare Festival founder Randy Messick says his time is now. This year’s Shakespeare Festival — the 30th year — will be Messick’s last, at least as a full-time faculty member at Bakersfield College, which presents the

  • Need a deep-dish helping of authentic Italian? Here you go

    The Italian Heritage Dante Association's absence from the recent Kern County Fair – for the first time in decades – has opened up more opportunities for the organization, leaders say. Time and effort saved from not preparing and selling food at the 12-day fair has allowed the group to focus on

  • Jin Sushi Japanese Restaurant chef Charlie Han, left, and owner Jake Kim pose for a photograph as a flaming sushi dish cooks in the foreground. Jin Sushi joins Enso, a couple of blocks to the east, as the only sushi purveyors in the heart of downtown Bakersfield.

    Appealing vibe and lovely sushi at downtown's Jin Sushi

    There’s always been something downtown and upscale about sushi, but the expansion of the cuisine in Bakersfield has concentrated mostly on the suburbs, in the northwest and southwest parts of town. But now, joining downtown sushi pioneer Enso, is Jin Sushi, a stylish place that delivers plates of

  • Chef Preeda Piamfa with his Yum beef salad at Chef's Choice Noodle Bar. The salad recipe is beginner-friendly, but if you'd prefer to leave the cooking to Piamfa, head downtown.

    Noodle Bar shares spicy beef salad, refreshing mojito recipes

    When Nick Hansa and his wife, Pum, opened Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar in 2011, the goal was simple: Add a little spice to the downtown dining scene and introduce Bakersfield to a wide array of Thai food with an extensive menu, and do so without compromising the integrity of the food’s origin or

  • A vegetarian dish from Valentien featuring chicken of the woods mushrooms.

    Who you calling chicken? Valentien's mushroom dish stands alone

    Although Bakersfield has a reputation as a meat-loving town, change is on the plate at Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar. “I’ve seen a major shift in the populace of this town to a healthier, lighter eating style,” said Jeramy Brown, who has owned Valentien with Jennifer Sanderson since 2007.

  • WIth its all-too-spooky black bun, the Halloween Whopper is available at Burger King through Oct. 31.

    THE DISH: Halloween Whopper scares but not in intended way

    With everyone so preoccupied with pumpkin spice everything — lattes, cookies, chips, vodka, candy, etc. — it may have slipped your notice that Burger King jumped on a different holiday bandwagon Monday. The HA1loween Whopper ($4.99), so cutely named for the A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce baked into

  • Peter Asher will perform Oct. 9 in Bakersfield. “The ’60s musical scene in Britain was mostly comprised of us copying your music," Asher said. "The Beatles actually began as a tribute band to American rock and roll.  They didn’t write their own songs at first; they copied yours. We all did. And then, somehow, we sold it back to you! It was kind of a miracle, really.”

    Legends separately, magic together: Duo debuts act in Bakersfield

    It would probably be easier to stay in a world without love, than in one without the musical contributions of Peter Asher and Albert Lee. The legendary duo will perform two acoustic shows at Guitar Masters at the Spotlight Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 and 9 p.m. The concert marks a return for

  • Katelyn Deaton, Megan Baytosh, Olivia Davis and Jessica Wollesen perform during "Nutcracker" rehearsals in 2012. After a fundraising campaign, the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra will continue to provide live accompaniment when Civic Dance Center stages the ballet in December.

    Mom got (nut)crackin' and now the symphony, ballet is back on

    The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s score to “The Nutcracker” ballet, thanks to the fancy footwork of a local dance mom who launched a last-minute fundraising blitz to pay the musicians. “The symphony is in possession of the entire fee,” said Lizette Swanson, of the $35,

  • Jennifer Keller shows some fascinators and other items at Fantasy Frocks, which is celebrating 35 years in business. Keller said it's often the accessories that make the outfit: "What I find is that 10 people could all get the same costume, but it’s the extra mile that makes the difference."

    A clothes call with history for Fantasy Frocks

    Thirty-five is an auspicious number for Jennifer Keller, owner of Fantasy Frocks. That’s the number of rental costumes she started with when she opened her doors in 1980. And that’s also the number of years her business is celebrating with events this month. The thriving retail and rental costume

  • Who can resist a tubing slide? Michelle Rivas-Sanchez, left, and Carrie Grider test the super slide in Halloween Town in 2013. This year's Halloween Town, paired with Talladega Frights off Riverlakes Drive, will feature a 100-foot slide as one of its family-friendly activities.

    You gotta fight for your fright to party

    A lot of events promise something for everyone, but one opening Friday in northwest Bakersfield actually delivers. Returning to the Rosedale area, the popular local haunted attraction Talladega Frights ups the local scare factor with an all-new terrifying adventure. For those who want to skip the

  • Sligo Rags, a fixture on the stage at California Adventure at Disneyland, plays the Bakersfield Celtic Music Festival on Saturday. From left: Michael Kelly, Eli Marcus, Jonathan Baer and David Burns.

    Celtic Music Festival promises a Gaelic old time

    At the Bakersfield Celtic Music Festival, the music has a lilt, the vibe is mellow and everything is done to ensure all bloodlines — Celtic or not — feel welcome. Even the polarizing Scottish dish haggis is available in love-it-or-leave-it shot-size portions. “It is the most friendly, embracing