BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The 2023 Kern County Fair is in the books, which means thousands of area residents are going back on their diets, and quickly. But our collective willingness to temporarily stray from personal dietary goals is surely one of the hallmarks of a successful county fair.

For the past 12 days, the fairgrounds has been packed as the Kern County Fair has run its course. It’s still buzzing with people in the process of taking things apart.

Carnival rides are coming down, vendor exhibits dismantled, stages defrocked, garbage sorted and waste stuffed into dumpsters. The aftermath of 12 very long days for fair staff, vendors and assorted others.

Kern County Fair attendance is still running behind its pre-pandemic average attendance of 450,000 over the near two weeks, but it’s moving in that direction.

“This year’s fair is a perfect representation of what happens when you have great people working together, you don’t have a pandemic looming over your head and you have more than two-and-a-half months to put it together,” said Kern County Fair Board member Blodgie Rodriguez. 

The numbers are still being tallied, but Rodriguez said 340,000 attended last year’s fair and attendance this year was up 7 percent after the first three days compared to the same period in 2022. That puts the fair on track for 364,000 this year.

Bakersfield police, in their second year as the fair’s primary law enforcement agency, seemed to have a highly visible presence, as one lost little boy could have confirmed. He got separated from his family in the loud, chaotic midway area late Saturday afternoon and got a personal escort to the lost-kid holding area.

“He felt comfortable with me, said BPD Officer Nickolas Brackett, who escorted the boy, hand-in-hand. “I was able to take him back to our command post where we were able to reunite him with his mom.”

Little Christopher’s mother, Kimberly De La Huerta, was grateful.

“It was really scary when he was just gone,” De La Huerta said. “And he’s autistic, so I was scared he was just going to keep running from people.”

It was all here: great weather, three days of sold-out rodeos, a packed monster truck event, $2 million worth of new asphalt in the P Street parking lot, and a lot of praise-the-Lord joy at a packed Gospel Day concert.

What more could you want, other than your annual corn dog?

“I swear by De Molay,” Rodriguez said. “I love all of our vendors, they’re all great … but De Molay’s corn dogs are the best.”

Carnival? Oh yeah!

Food vendors? Oh yeah!

Musical acts? Oh yeah!

Overall attendance? Too early to tell but we should know midweek. But early indications are this was a largely successful Kern County Fair.