It's hard to miss the concerts, food and rides at the Kern County Fair, with all of them greeting guests as soon as they walk into the fairgrounds. But don't forget to head inside the buildings to check out the contests and still exhibits. Escaping the heat in there is, of course, an added bonus.

The contests and still exhibits are where the makers, bakers and artists get to show off their skills, and while most contests' deadlines have passed, there is still time to enter others. For noncompetitors, plan to take a stroll through the buildings to admire your fellow Kern County residents' hard work.

Still-exhibit supervisor Patt Sandrini said last year's fair saw about 8,000 items entered and this year's is on track for similar numbers, with more than 2,500 people entering already, many of them with multiple items. 

"It shows what our community is all about," Sandrini said of the exhibits. The exhibitors "are proud of what they've done, and thank God they enter or we wouldn't have a fair."

WHERE TO GO

First things first: if you want to check out specific exhibits or contests, it helps to know where to go. All contests and exhibits are spread out over three buildings.

  • Home Arts, Building 4: Author's Corner, Baked and Culinary Arts, Birdhouses, Ceramics, Creative Arts, Decorative Painting, Dolls, Fine Art, Floriculture, Home Arts, Homebrew, Needle Arts, Preserves, Sculptures, Hobbies, Models, Crafts, Legos, Knex and Mini Structures.
  • Albert S. Goode, Building 1: Agriculture and Horticulture, Community Exhibits, Community Organizations, Gems and Minerals, Photography, Scarecrows, School Art and Wool Fleece.
  • Harvest Hall, Building 5: FFA Ag Mechanics, FFA Agri Science, 4-H/FFA/FCCLA/Grange/INDP Exhibits, 4-H Mechanical Science, Feature Booths and other junior and youth organizations and clubs.

COOKING CONTESTS

Of the contests people can still enter, almost all are in the culinary arts. If you think you have the best apple pie or chili in town, this is where you'll have the chance to prove it. Each contest has its own rules, so be sure to check out the Competitive Exhibits guide for more information, but here are the basics: contestants must be 16 and older (with the exception of the Junior Cupcake contest); entries are to be submitted up to 30 minutes before the contest starts and recipes must be made at home using ingredients that are readily available at local markets. Contests are:

  • Hot Wing, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m.
  • K.C. Chili, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.
  • Grandma's and Grandpa's Cookies, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m.
  • Pulford Apple Pie, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m.
  • Salsa, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Pie, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.
  • Kitchen Craft, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
  • Favorite Cake, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday Pie, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.
  • Potato Salad, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
  • Dewar's Ice Cream, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m.
  • Almost Homemade, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.
  • Dip into the Fun, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.
  • Junior Cupcake, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.

While the entries are sure to be tasty, one contest has the potential to be seriously cute as well: the Grandma's and Grandpa's Cookie contest is open to contestants 40 years and older and will be judged by children aged 8 to 14. And unlike judging for most of the contests, this one is open for the public to watch. 

WATCH CONTESTS

Maybe entering contests isn't for everyone but watching them is. While most contests have closed judging, there are some contests that will be judged in a show.

Cooking competitions on TV are a hit for reason, and at the fair, guests can watch a similar kitchen showdown live at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 and 28 in Building 4. The Student Chopped Contest will feature students selected by Bakersfield College culinary and nutrition staff. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, with second and third taking home a $500 scholarship each. 

"Project Runway" fans might want to check out the Cheryl Hudson Fashion Show at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Harvest Hall. Designers aged 5 to 19 will display their best creations in four categories: Traditional, Decorated Fashion, Upcycled and Consumer Science.

Sandrini encouraged people to stop by the Harvest Hall throughout the fair to see what local kids have been working on.

"We love to get people to come into Harvest Hall," she said. "There's stuff going on all the time."

PAINT NIGHT

For those who want to dip their toes into fair participation without worrying about submission deadlines, there will be paint nights on Sept. 22 and 29. Entry fee is $25 and includes appetizers, sparkling cider and desserts. It's for adults only and is limited to 20 people per night, so sign up early. Go to thearthousebakersfield.com or call 431-2025 for reservations and more information.

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

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