Before the Kern County Fair gates opened at 9 a.m. for Tuesday’s School Days, a plethora of energy was seen and felt as children tried not to burst from excitement.
Kids were rapidly listing off all the activities they wanted to do with their friends, siblings, parents and teachers.
“I want to see all the animals, see all the new rides, buy stuff,” James Daniels, 11, who is homeschooled, said to his step-brothers Josiah and Jeremiah Robinson, 6.
There were some children, however, who preferred working on school work rather than going to the fair.
“I like school more than this because of homework,” said 8-year-old Josiah Weyrough, who is homeschooled. “But I still can’t wait to see the duck races.”
Once the gates opened, all that contained energy, even from those who were not all in for the fair, was let loose.
Tuesday and Wednesday are School Days at the Kern County Fair, where there is free admission for children in preschool through sixth grade from 9 a.m. to noon. Children from schools around the area get a break from the classroom to interact with animals, watch shows and participate in several other activities.
One of the main attractions that draws a crowd is the Great American Petting Zoo at KC’s Corner. Attendees can play with and feed goats, sheep, ducks, pigs and more.
“I played with the baby goat, it was so cute,” said Maleah Lopez, 8, from Bethany Christian School in Wasco. “I love them. Seeing the animals is my favorite (part of the fair).”
Many school chaperones from Whitley Elementary School, such as Khadeeja Cortez, see the value of bringing a group of first-graders to interact with animals, especially when they are a main topic in their classes.
“Right now they’re learning about agriculture, food and helping the community,” Cortez said. “What we’re doing today is seeing the animals and exploring the KC Farm to see how food grows, so when they go back to class that’s what they’re focusing on.”
Kids also got a kick out of some “professional” athletes at the duck races and turkey stampede, cheering on the racers from the stands. But a child’s favorite always emerges by the end.
“I liked the duck races because my favorite duck won,” said Paisly O’Brien, 6, from New Life Christian School in Bakersfield, about “Spiderman,” the champion duck.
She said she never saw a duck race before, which made the event even more exciting.
Aside from letting children run around, those who accompanied them found joy in spending quality time together.
“It’s for the children’s experience and also for us,” said Bakersfield resident Grace Bingham, who was with her husband, Bryan, and grandson, Alexander Kott. “It’s time to bond with them, and we just enjoy being a part of their life.”
Those who perform in front of family audiences every day at the fair also feel the magic that School Days brings.
“This is probably the most energetic that I get with my audiences,” magician Frank Thurston, from the Magic of Frank Thurston, said. “There’s something special when you have this many school kids in one location. The energy, the kids, it’s so much so you feed off that.”