Steady growth in hotel industry: Bakersfield’s hotel sector continued to show steady growth in 2018.
According to STR Inc., data from Jan. 1, 2018, through Nov. 30, 2018, show the number of hotel rooms sold in the Bakersfield market increased about 1.4 percent compared with the same period in 2017. Local hotels also were able to charge more for those rooms in 2018, with the average daily rate up about 2.3 percent year-over-year. That meant Bakersfield hotels also saw increased total revenue and revenue per available room up about 3.5 percent over 2017 levels.
These increases occurred despite fewer hotel rooms being available, due to the closure of the former Clarion Hotel on Rosedale Highway during its conversion to a Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. Increased hotel revenue also means higher levels of transient occupancy tax flowing to local governments.
Here’s what’s happening in Bakersfield tourism:
Increased attendance at CALM: The California Living Museum had a record year in 2018 in terms of visitors.
More than 100,000 people visited CALM, more than 20,000 students learned about native wildlife on field trips and another 67,000 visited CALM’s HolidayLights. During 2018, California’s premier native zoo and garden installed all-new signage throughout the zoo and developed a phone app with information about the native animals that have been rescued and housed at CALM. The California Coast Room was also completed, which showcases an interactive touch tank with native sea creatures, a moon jellies exhibit and CALM’s newest residents, Hank the octopus and a variety of seahorses.
New projects at KC Museum: The Kern County Museum wrapped up a record number of important construction projects in 2018, the largest being the completion of the Ray Watson Historic Vehicle Exhibition. Other upgrades include the remodeled Joss House with artifacts from the century-old Let Sing Gong Temple moved to the exhibit, restoration of the interior of Standard School, reconstruction of the 75-year-old band stand, remodel of the undertaker parlor, complete refurbishment of the historic Metcalf House, remodel of the drug store and upgrade of the Lori Brock Discovery Center.
Art After Dark: After a successful run in 2018, the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s unique Art After Dark program will continue in 2019. Art After Dark featured after-hours art experiences, including fine art, entertainment and drinks at Kern County’s only accredited art museum.
Each month, BMoA presented engaging educational art projects such as a block printing workshops or a collaborative community painting projects and paired them with a number of notable local restaurants and bars, such as Moo Creamery, Kern River Brewing Company, Nuestro Mexico and Lengthwise, to provide an educational, entertaining and social environment.
History comes alive: Straight from the mouths of those who were there, “Stories on the Sidewalk” will be a fun, educational walk through history, where colorful and amazing characters from Kern County’s past come alive on the streets of Bakersfield.
This walking tour on Feb. 9 will feature eleven stops in downtown Bakersfield, with a different actor at each stop portraying some of our city’s most famous — and infamous — residents: Col. Thomas Baker, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Madge the Madam, the outlaw Dick Fellows and more.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and enjoy these exciting stories of Kern’s rich history, told in riveting, locally written dramatic presentations and performed by local actors and presented by the Arts Council of Kern.
Attendance up on the farm: Murray Family Farms had an exceptional year in 2018 due to an increased focus on seasonal festivals and social media upgrades. New attractions included Potato Blasters, a paint gun arcade, vortex, upgraded admissions, snack bar, lighting and sound fidelity. Attendance grew by 18 percent in October and more than doubled during the spring events. This growth was the result of the improved use of technology and an increased emphasis on seasonal festivals to connect the community with local food, fun and production agriculture. The farm’s website has been recently revamped with new tools and a new look, adding online ticket sales and tour reservations. Outreach expanded from the company’s social media flagship on Facebook and launched into a wide variety of platforms to connect “Family Farm Fanatics” through Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Snapchat and Instagram.
Wrestling championships expand: CIF wrestling returns to Rabobank Arena in 2019 but with some exciting changes.
First, the event will combine both boys and girls wrestling. The girls wrestling had previously been held in Visalia. Next, combining both boys and girls wrestling means the event will expand from two days to three. That means more people and more hotel room nights sold. Third, the CIF wrestling event will be held Feb. 21-23, one week earlier than its traditional dates the first weekend of March. That is welcome news because Bakersfield will no longer have CIF and March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway competing for limited hotel rooms on the same weekend. With these two large events on separate weekends, each of them will have room to grow.
Sports show returns: The Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show will again welcome outdoor enthusiasts to Bakersfield’s Kern County Fairgrounds in 2019. Not only is it the Central Valley’s largest fishing, hunting, boat and RV show, it is considered by most industry “insiders” to be one of the best RV shows in the Western U.S. In years past, this show often was held on the same weekend as both CIF and March Meet. In 2019, however, it will be held March 15-17.
New postcard: The latest Bakersfield postcard is here, courtesy of Visit Bakersfield. The city’s visitor center went back to the archives and updated a classic Bakersfield postcard with current images of our city. The postcard is free and available exclusively at Visit Bakersfield, 515 Truxtun Ave., in front of the downtown Amtrak station.
David Lyman, Ph.D., is manager of Visit Bakersfield. He and other members of Team More to Explore help visitors from throughout the world spend their money in California’s ninth largest city. They are available toll-free 866-425-7353 or at Info@VisitBakersfield.com.