Children are at the heart of everything CASA of Kern County and the Kayli Memorial Fund do, so when the two joined forces for a fundraiser, a day of family fun was just the ticket.
The fifth annual Children Are Precious Carnival will return to the Rancho Rio Equestrian Center on Saturday and Sunday. Families can enjoy free games and activities, as well as check out vendors.
The carnival is a partnership between the Kayli Memorial Fund and the local chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency court.
Tasha Johnston started the fund in honor of her granddaughter, Kayli Bearden, who was just 2 years old when she died from an act of child abuse by a family friend in 2008. Johnston said she and her husband wanted to help other children in the community following their loss.
After reaching out to the Kern Community Foundation, Johnston was connected with CASA. The Kayli Memorial Fund was created as an endowment for CASA.
"It was our way of turning a tragedy into blessings," Johnston said. "It helped me heal. I'll never be fully healed, but it helps, knowing I'm helping other children. I want to help other abused and neglected kids."
CASA Executive Director Amy Travis said the nonprofit was happy to connect with Johnston.
"We were so honored to be chosen (as the charity) to benefit," Travis said. "This support allows us to look into the future and have security."
Though the carnival is free, with plenty of no-cost activities and games, it raises money for the fund through raffles, T-shirt sales, sponsorships and vendor fees.
Both days will have a cake walk, food, games and other activities but there are a few differences between the two days. Saturday's carnival will include appearances by Bakersfield Fairy Tale Friends and E&M Reptile Show, at 11 a.m. and noon respectively, while Sunday's will include Cowboy Church at 10 a.m.
Guests on Saturday will also have the chance to check out Rancho Rio's monthly junior rodeo from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Their rodeo is the same day," Johnston said. "So kids can see what other kids are doing."
Raffle items include a bicycle, barbecue, Instapot, toys and electronics. The drawing will take place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, but winners don't need to be present to claim their prizes.
Vendors include those selling Scentsy, hair bows, T-shirts, blankets and jewelry. Food vendors will have hamburgers, hot dogs and, in the mornings, biscuits and gravy.
The carnival tends to get around 450 people over the weekend, and last year's event raised $3,000. Johnston and Travis encouraged people to check out the carnival and bring their families.
"Come out and support a great cause," Johnston said. "Have fun with your kids, come out and enjoy life for a day. Do it all for a good cause, helping other children in the community."