Now that the weather is finally on the cooler side, it's time to get back outside again. There's no better, or cheaper, way to do that this weekend than at Hart Park After Dark.

Returning for its third year on Saturday, Hart Park After Dark is a countywide event with free, family-friendly fun all evening long.

While many county agencies are involved in the event, its lead coordinators come from the Kern County Library, County Administrative Office, and Parks and Recreation Department.

"For us, it's about connecting people with fun and free programming," said Jasmin LoBasso, marketing and promotions associate at the Kern County Library. "It's also a way to highlight the importance of parks and services that help improve the quality of life in the community."

This year, Hart Park After Dark has a "footprint about double the size" as last year, LoBasso said. That means more room for more activities.

"There are a lot of fun different elements this year," she said. "People can have fun and see what we have to offer."

Some activities will include: spider hat crafts and Boo bracelets with the Kern County Library, which will also host a family storytime; Halloween music with Phantom Stranger Inc.; "What Can I Can?" recycling game with Kern County Public Works; lawn pong with Kern County General Services; photo opportunity with the Kern County Fire Department; photo booth with Kern Countywide Communications; temporary tattoos with Kern County Department of Child Support Services; coloring with 2020 Kern Complete Count Committee; and magic with Christopher Lopez, to name a few. 

A new partnership this year is with the Girl Scouts, which is contributing a jack-o'-lantern walk. Guests can also check out the "Family Friendly Fear Factor" with Community Connection for Childcare.

Like previous years, there will also be food vendors selling a variety of treats. Bakersfield Kettle Corn, El Churro Loco and the Sheriff's Activities League are all expected to sell food. New this year will be craft and business vendors.

Besides what is sold by vendors, everything else at Hart Park After Dark, including all activities, is free.

"In the past, it was entirely free except for food vendors; this year, we've extended the opportunity to local vendors," LoBasso said. "The bulk of the event is free. That's our first priority."

Around 5,000 people came to last year's event, which was about twice as much as the first year. LoBasso expects that upward trend to continue, anticipating a 25 percent increase in attendance based on the increase of activities and space this year.

Guests are encouraged to wear costumes and bring flashlights. Off-site parking at Kern County Soccer Park and shuttles from there to the park will be available. 

"The most important thing is providing fun, family-friendly entertainment and opportunities for people to participate in county services and programs," LoBasso said. "Anytime we can do that, it's going to be a win-win for everyone."

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