It might not be the only day they come out to the Kern County Fair, but for those 62 and older, Senior Day is the best day to come. After all, free admission, health information and early access to all the fair favorites is hard to beat.

The fair welcomed local seniors on Friday starting at 9 a.m., kicking things off with an opening ceremony on the GEMCare stage and welcoming remarks from Mayor Karen Goh.

"This is just like a fairground full of wisdom, full of experience," Goh told the crowd. "I know many of you out there are probably veterans. We applaud you and we thank you."

Part of Senior Day, which is sponsored by Dignity Health Medical Network and GEMCare, was a health fair. Guests could take advantage of health screenings, testing things like cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose, and visit informational tables from local health and veteran groups. 

"We're out here trying to bring awareness to all the services we provide," said Ana Igoa, director of marketing for Dignity Health Medical Network. 

Farther into the fairgrounds, seniors were checking out the livestock, admiring art and taking a break in the shade. A few even enjoyed an early morning beer as they waited for the opening ceremony to begin. 

Though temperatures were in the 90s, plenty of seniors braved the heat with hats on heads and fans in hands.

Rose Jimenez, 77, said she comes to the fair for Senior Day every year and was there with her sister this time. With a will power many at the fair might find enviable, Jimenez passed up all the decadent fair food in favor of plans to check out the exhibits.

Jimenez said she likes Senior Day "because all you see is seniors. On other days there are lots of kids running around, tripping over you."

Over in the livestock area, William Cooper, 63, didn't mind being among the kids — whether they were human or goat. He said there are two things he loves most about the fair: the farm animals and the art exhibits.

"I love seeing things people made with their hands," said Cooper, an Army veteran.

James and Ronna Goodmon, 69 and 70, respectively, were taking a break in the shade outside of the Albert S. Goode building.

"We always come out for Senior Day because it's free," said James Goodmon, who served as a medic in the Army. 

The Goodmons said they appreciated the health and veteran information available at the fair. James Goodmon said he is a regular blood and platelet donor, adding that "old people are givers."

Like many at the fair, they also wanted to check out the animals and take advantage of some of the fair snacks, like caramel corn and cinnamon rolls.

"We're trying to cut back on sugar," Ronna Goodmon said, "so we might share that next cinnamon roll."

Inside the nearby building, Keith Fultz, 68, admired the artwork of a local child.

"I noticed this third-grader had a tendency toward Picasso," Fultz said, noting the first-place ribbon. "For a third-grader, that shows thought beyond normal artistry, I think even for most (adults)."

Fultz planned to return to the fair in the afternoon with his young grandson, whom he would pick up from kindergarten. Knowing the boy might not be interested in strolling through the rows of art, Fultz decided to do so while he was on his own. 

Fultz, pastor at Chester Avenue Community Church, said he would also be checking out the work of a member of his congregation, Paul Warner, who makes models of historic buildings in Kern County.

Across the grounds, the Home Arts building was full of seniors checking out quilts and other entries. Marjorie Nowlin, 58, was taking a moment to admire one award-winning quilt that caught her eye: her own.

"I did not think that I was going to win," said Nowlin, who only has use of one arm. "I just entered because I thought, 'I made a quilt! That is something to be celebrated.'"

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter: @TBCKellyArdis.

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