You're invited to two birthday parties in Kern County this weekend but don't worry: You can easily attend both celebrations, held on different days.
First up: The California Living Museum will hold its 35th Birthday Bash on Saturday. It's not a birthday without some cake, and the CALM animals will be getting in on the fun, like a trout cake for the bears.
For the humans at the zoo, Hunsaker Brothers Carnie Corn will be there selling the sweet popped corn along with funnel cakes, corn dogs and shaved ice.
Throughout the day, there will be keeper chats, and docents will walk around with the zoo's ambassador animals. Guests can also meet some visiting animals at noon with an appearance by Steve Martin's Working Wildlife.
The Condor Challenge rock-climbing tower will be free for guests to climb. Guests can also hop on the train for $1.
CALM opened in 1983, three years after it was first established as a nonprofit. Founder Mike Hopkins had been traveling the world studying exotic animals when he realized the ones in Kern County were just as interesting as the ones in other countries.
“A California black bear was every bit as interesting and beautiful as an Indian Sun bear,” Hopkins once wrote. “I realized that I had traveled halfway around the world to see and study tigers, but I had never actually seen a mountain lion in the wild in all the years I grew up and lived in California.”
Now an important part of Kern County (and a regular field trip for elementary students in the area), getting CALM off the ground was hard work, with the zoo's 50 board members getting their hands dirty and doing much of the work themselves.
In 1995, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office took over CALM when it looked like the zoo was about to go under. The zoo's foundation board and KCSOS now work together, and since the transition, the zoo has grown, adding the California Coast Room, the Condor Challenge and the guest favorite Holiday Lights.
After celebrating the zoo and its long history at the Birthday Bash on Saturday, you can do the same for the Kern County Museum on Sunday.
From noon to 4 p.m., the museum will celebrate its 77th birthday with guided tours of Pioneer Village with curator Lori Wear, activities for kids and a food vendor.
There will also be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the museum's recently remodeled bandstand, which was brought back to life thanks to funding provided by Adventist Health.
The Kern County Museum got its start back in 1941, when the Kern Historical Society asked the Kern County Board of Supervisors to create a museum. The supervisors voted in favor of creating the museum, but because of limited resources during World War II, full operations didn’t get started until 1945.
In the museum's early days, the old fairgrounds surrounded the museum at its Chester Avenue location. Its first executive director was Frank Latta, a teacher and historian.
Since its start, the museum has become a beloved institution and a favorite field trip destination for local schools, thanks to its historic buildings and large collection.
“The Kern County Museum is the historic center of the county,” said Beth Pandol, vice chair of the museum's board. “Over the years, it’s grown and changed, but it’s always been part of the Kern County community. It’s a place to showcase all the things that built Kern County.”