BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The Kern County Fair has a little secret. In addition to being lots of fun, it is almost subversively educational. Learning opportunities lurk around the corner from practically every corn dog stand.

And education has been a primary purpose of county fairs since the beginning.

In the best traditions of the 200-year history of the American institution known as the county fair, these celebrations of home, hearth and field are, one way or another, about living off the land.

The fruits of the field are on display, and right next door is Fachin Bees, a mini classroom that explains bees’ irreplaceable role in agriculture as pollinators. It’s a family affair for the Fachins – even 8-year-old Dominic pitches in to help his dad, Ryan Fachin.

“He likes to help his dad and drive the forklift and move the bees,” said Melissa Fachin. “He gets all suited up and he takes some for the team when he gets stung.”

Gosh, Dominic – how many times have you been stung?

“Thirteen,” Dominic said.

His mother laughed in surprise. “Oh, he’s keeping count!”

Educating kids is a big part of the county fair’s mission, from the petting zoo to people like Alex Zander, who has a farm-themed magic show geared toward very young ranch hands.

And what do we do with farm-fresh ingredients like milk and honey? We add additional ingredients of course and feed our families. And there’s a celebration of that, too, in the fair’s foods department. Baking and cooking contests focused on such diverse options as pies, cookies, potato salad and Spam.

Kathy Simonson, attending Friday’s fair as part of Senior Day, loves that diversity of entertainment. What’s her favorite?

“Everything,” she said. “Except the rides. I don’t do the rides anymore. There’s something here for everybody. And it changes every year.”

Whether you’re here to fly through the air on carnival rides, people-watch, or match your kitchen savvy against that of others, there’s a lot here to enjoy.