Many children from across Kern County who had just hopped off school buses were antsy as they waited in line outside of the Kern County Fair on Thursday morning for Special Friends Day.
They knew once they walked through the front gates, a day of food and fun awaited — including the beloved cinnamon rolls, lobster fries and corn dogs. A performance by Slim & Curly, followed by the petting zoo and Alaskan pig races, commenced the day as fair hours started earlier than usual to entertain those with functional needs.
Hundreds of students, teachers, classroom aides and parents spent their morning at the fair. Many children wore smiles and expressed excitement as they walked through the gates and into the fairgrounds.
Sequoia Elementary School students talked about how they were excited to see the animals. Esmerelda Garcia, 10, was particularly focused on the cows and alpacas.
"I like the animals and I want to pet them," she said. "I bet they are so nice."
Garcia's friend, Michael Juarez, 9, was more excited about eating cotton candy because it's his favorite food. His aide, Michelle Lancaster, said Michael was looking forward to getting the treat for days.
"It's amazing how much happiness this fair can bring to these kids," Lancaster said. "A lot of the students have been talking about what their favorite part of the fair is, and it's usually either some snack or the animals, but mostly the animals."
Lizzie Grahm, 16, of Delano wanted a root beer float. She also thought she had enough money to get a corn dog and still go on a few of her favorite rides, like the ferris wheel. Grahm said she's been coming to the fair for many years and seeing the animals is always a highlight.
Steven Drism, 17, said he was excited to see the pig race — something he said he never witnessed before.
"I bet they go real fast," Drism said.
James Prestioni, teacher at Delano High School, expressed his excitement for his students to enjoy the day at the fair because it's rewarding to see them have a good time.
"The fair is one of those events that we look forward to every year," Prestioni said. "They're just kids who want to have fun and enjoy this tradition in the county."
Prestioni said the fair will prove itself to be rewarding and exhausting, as it has for the past few years he's brought his students.
"I know it's going to be a fun day, but it's going to be a tiring day. We're all going to be wiped out by the time we leave, and some of us will probably sleep on the way back.
"But that's a sign that we did our job and provided our students with a fun and engaging day. I'll take it."