One hundred years in the making, the centennial edition of the Kern County Fair needed to squeeze out every available minute Tuesday as crews hustled and bustled, putting up tents, making deliveries and running jackhammers. But ready or not, the fair begins its 12-day run this afternoon, unveiling a host of new attractions, rides and food items.
During Tuesday’s media tour, some of those attractions were still a work in progress, including the live shark display and related exhibit from the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History, as well as the nearby high-dive performance area.
Luckily the stars of the much-anticipated Egyptian wildlife exhibit were ready for their closeup. As workers assembled displays around him, Zuri, an African gray parrot, whistled at the passing crowd from atop her wired enclosure. “She’s a rock star,” handler Jessica Malley said of the vocal bird.
Malley and wildlife educator Karla Majewski brought out hairless sphynx cat Princess Pawsie and Mac, a savannah monitor lizard, who also take part in the mostly hands-on children’s exhibit of animals and artifacts, for the assembled crowd.
“All of our animals are conditioned to be around humans,” Majewski said.
The exhibit on Grand Avenue will also feature games, activities and a large sand sculpture. Concessions were also being prepared for service, including the one operated by Bakersfield city firefighters, who were putting some last-minute touches on their completely remodeled building.
Starting with the bare bones of the original ’50s-era building, BFD engineer Chris Eucce led a team of volunteers and contractors in a $60,000-plus project funded by the Bakersfield Firefighters Relief Association.
“It was a Band-Aid every year. Band-Aid after Band-Aid,” Eucce said of operating the aged concession first run by the women’s auxiliary before being taken over by the department.
“There was a time crunch and we could have used an extra few months. But we’re still really happy. It was a tough but fun project.”
The facade is modeled after a two-story East Coast firehouse, with bright red shutters on the order and delivery windows in front.
The design’s crown jewel is on display in the back bar area. Using some of the structure’s original roof joists, Eucce created a bar top with a BFD logo. A side bar, also handmade by Eucce, has a Bakersfield firefighters design with a steam pumper fire engine.
The back bar has an extended roof and new flat-screen TVs to encourage fairgoers to stay and enjoy their beer or tri-tip sandwich and newly introduced sweet potato fries.
Inside, the kitchen — with all new equipment— and bar have been reconfigured, making better use of the space to accommodate a crew of up to 15 volunteers.
The bar serving area is smaller to allow more space for the walk-in freezer, but Eucce said everyone agrees it’s a sacrifice they can get behind.
“The colder the beer, the better.”