Memorial Day brings with it a three-day weekend for most people, and while many have vacations planned, others find themselves wondering what to do for the holiday. For those staying in town, there are several events to explore to make every day count.
Kern County Basque Club's 47th annual Basque Festival
The Basque Festival is back once again this weekend and is ready to bring dancing, handball and, of course, traditional food to the Kern County Basque Club at 2301 S. Union Ave. Saturday kicks off at 8 a.m. with a Mus tournament, a popular card game in Basque Country. Registration costs $35, and the first-place team will take home $500. Four handball players, or pelotaris, from Basque Country will be playing handball as well, according to the club's website. The night will end with dance performances from various groups.
The festival continues Sunday with a 10 a.m. Mass by Aita Antton Egiguren and more tournaments and dancing. For more information, visit http://kcbasqueclub.com.
Bakersfield National Cemetery Memorial Day service
Many Americans made the ultimate sacrifice in order to ensure our freedoms. It's only fitting that they be remembered for their bravery and selflessness at Bakersfield National Cemetery, the oak-dotted final resting place located in the picturesque foothills east of Bakersfield. Memorial Day ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. and feature several speakers including Brigadier General E.J. Teichert, commander, 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, Tejon Ranch Vice President Barry Zoeller (Tejon donated the property that would become the National Cemetery.), Assemblyman Vince Fong, Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola Jr.
For more information, call 661-867-2260.
21st annual Latino Food Festival Menudo and Pozole Cook-Off
If residents are looking for a blend of culture, food and entertainment, the 21st annual Latino Food Festival Menudo and Pozole Cook-Off is the place to be Sunday. The festival, put on by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Kern County Museum, will continue its menudo cook-off tradition, with cash prizes going to the first- through third-place winners. Menudo is a traditional stew with honeycomb tripe, garlic, onion and hominy.
New this year is the pozole contest. Cooks will face off to see who has the best Mexican soup, with cash prizes awarded to the first- through third-place winners.
This year’s entertainment headliner is four-time Grammy winner Ramon Ayala y Sus Broncos de Norte. Other artists includes Velorio, La Sonora Explosiva, Mariachi San Marcos de Bakersfield, HindSite, Lost Vinyl (a Tower of Power tribute), La Marcha and Ballet Folklorico Huaztecalli.
Admission is $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and children under 5 are free. For more information, visit www.kchcc.org.
The McMurtrey Aquatic Center welcomes the summer season every year with Operation Splash, and families hoping to take a dip this weekend should look no further. Cosponsored by Kaiser Permanente, families can stop by from 1 to 4 p.m. for an afternoon of pool fun. Attendees can also learn about water safety and making healthy beverage choices during the event.
Though the weather might be a little cooler, Recreation Supervisor II Ja'Nette Beck believes Operation Splash is "a nice way to kick off the summer season and bring awareness of water safety." She also notes the pool will be heated, and water slides and activity pool will be open.
The cost is $4 per person or $13 for groups of four. Children 2 and under are free.
Raffle prizes will also be given out throughout the event.
Beck encourages everyone to come in proper swim attire. For more information on Operation Splash or upcoming swim programs or grants, visit https://bakersfieldcity.us/gov/depts/recreation_n_parks/aquatics/default.htm or call 661-852-7430.
Historic Union Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony
One patriotic way to conclude the weekend is by taking part in Kern County's oldest traditional Memorial Day ceremony, according to organizer Marc Sandall. For some 70 years, the ceremony has been honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in combat, and the tradition continues beginning at 9 a.m. Monday. The event will include patriotic music, a biodegradable balloon release with personal remembrance cards attached and a tribute to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the massive allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944 that proved to be the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. McCarthy, Fong and Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh are expected to attend.
For more information, call 661-324-9648.