BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The fair is back, and it’s been a long wait for people here in Kern County.
“I did miss the fair last year,” local mother Mona Salazar said.
Everybody seems to have a favorite booth or activity.
“The food. It’s always about the food,” cook José Gonzalez said.
“The older I get, the more I realize it’s much less about spending tons of money, but spending time with your friends and family,” food service worker Ciara Salazar said.
But coronavirus and its variants loom, forcing some fairgoers to consider whether it’s safe to attend. The fair will be strongly encouraging masking and social distancing, though it won’t require proof of vaccination or masks for entry.
“Remember the common manners that we were taught early in COVID,” Fair director David Torres said. “Social distancing, washing your hands and keeping your face covered. I think so long as we do that, they will be able to ensure for themselves that they will have a safe fair.”
Masking in particular divides potential fairgoers.
“I don’t really feel like masks are needed to be at the fair,” Ciara Salazar said. “I personally have always felt like we should be able to enjoy our time and not have to feel like a blanket over our face.”
But there are some who do plan on masking up for the festivities.
“Yes, I do plan on taking COVID precautions,” server Catalina Ramirez said. “I am going to wear my mask when I am there. I know everyone’s excited, so everyone’s going to be there.”
Some will be skipping the fair altogether.
Alex Barron caught COVID at the height of the pandemic. Masks or no masks, a large group gathering is just too risky for him.
“I just think the whole situation that’s going on right now, worldwide, I personally think everyone should stay home to avoid more contamination,” Barron, owner of beverage company FireWater.Co, said.
Organizers expect to see tens of thousands of people attend Wednesday alone.