The wave swinger

Rod Thornburg / For The Californian The last day of the Kern County Fair. Thrills and fear show on the faces of those who ride the Wave Swingers at the Kern County Fair.

The Kern County Fair. It’s not just a rite of passage for families to attend. It’s an annual tradition for thousands of Kern County residents.

The fun-for-all-ages event features everything you could want and more, like food, games, animals and entertainment.

Every year, the fair brings back old favorites and combines them with new innovations. Food always takes center stage, with previous years showcasing culinary creations like deep-fried grilled cheese, pizza bombs and chocolate-covered bacon, as well as classic treats like funnel cake, corn dogs and turkey legs.

The animal attractions are another local draw, with petting zoos, livestock auctions, races and shows, and there are games aplenty.

In other words, the Kern County Fair is fun for the whole family. Below are some must-dos for families with kids of varying ages.

5 and Under

The Kern County Fair is a sensory experience, particularly for young children – an overload of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. Ease them into fun by visiting the petting zoo, away from the noise and bright lights, where they can watch and interact with animals of all sizes, from chickens and ducks to alpacas and wallabies. No trip to the fair is complete without a ride on the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel. A pint-size Ferris wheel is available for smaller riders, while the merry-go-round features jumping horses and chariots to accommodate up to 40 passengers. It also goes without saying that the day wouldn’t be complete without face painting and cotton candy.

6 to 12

This is the age where kids want to experience the thrills of the Kern County Fair while still enjoying its fun, youthful offerings. Attractions like the fun houses are a great way to bridge the gap as some are mazes filled with moving floors and funny mirrors, while others are blanketed in darkness with creatures like zombies haunting twists and turns. Roller coasters are an appealing option for those ready to take on “big kid” rides and the Wave Swinger, which lifts and tilts riders as they spin on a traditional swing ride, is a Kern County Fair staple. Some cash to spend on games is a must, as nothing is more rewarding than “beating the system” and snagging a ridiculously large prize from one of the many game booths.

13 and Up

Teenagers will most likely be looking for an adrenaline rush and rides like Inversion, which swings side to side and inverts passengers at heights up to 80 feet, and Ring of Fire, a 60-foot-diameter looping ride, will do the trick. Beyond the rides, the shows at the Kern County Fair will be a major draw with acts like Nelly, KC and the Sunshine Band, Josh Turner and Pablo Cruise set to take the stage. More importantly, give teens time to explore the fair on their own, as they may want to try things that their adult counterparts won’t.

From young to old, everybody can feel like a kid again at the Kern County Fair. There are shows that let guests get in on the action, contests locals can enter and so much more, so gather up the family and enjoy what this year has to offer! 

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