BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — County fair-goers tend to devote most of their attention to the food, the rides, the livestock and the music. but just off the beaten path, just a little, is the Fine Arts building, which is where you’ll find, in addition to fine arts, one of the quirkiest parts of the fair.
Participants in the fair’s various competitions have in many cases been working all year in preparation for this 10-day run of the fair But in the collectibles competition, many contestants have been working their entire adult lives, or their adolescence, in some cases. What do they collect? There’s where quirky comes in.
In a covered patio adjacent to the Fine Arts building, near the carnival end of the fair promenade, you’ll find collections of miniature school buses, Pink Floyd souvenirs, miniature buildings handcrafted from scratch, rubber duckies, thimbles, lip balm (that’s right — lip balm – new and unopened, thankfully} and enough one-24th scale replica classic cars to create a major traffic jam on a miniature commuter bridge.
James Vickers, a Bakersfield electrician and replica car collector,. is the man behind that entry.
He started his collection more than 30 years ago when family members started gifting him two or three cars for each birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day — and now he has 60, twice as many as will fit on his 8 foot long arch bridge.
“When my sons wanted to display their Hot Wheels cars here at the fair, I thought, Well, how can I display my cars? So I came up with this idea to build a bridge to display the cars on,” Vickers said.
Traffic on the bridge is bumper to bumper.
“You don’t mind when you’re sitting in a pink Cadillac,” he said.
22-year-old Charles Golnick builds all kinds of things — model ships and aircraft, big-rig-type trucks, miniature buildings. And he collects skulls. Yes, skulls.
“Each person has their own view of what they (enjoy),” he said by way of explanation.
The judges had to give this guy a blue ribbon: He collects memorabilia from and about the Kern County Fair itself from over many, many years. Aaron Eaton won some of these ribbons himself, others he purchased.
“I like to collect the history of the fair so kids today could come and see the history,” he said.
Why do people feel a need to collect things, anyway? Does it fulfill some kind of primordial urge to store up for the long, hard winter? Nah.
“People identify with the things that they collect, you know,” Vickers said. “I like cars and boats and planes, ever since I was a kid.”
That’s not the only reason people like to collect things.
“It’s fun,” said Eaton.
If you’re still too dizzy from the Tilt-a-Whirl to go for that corn dog you’d been thinking about earlier, the collectibles exhibit, the first building south of the carnival area, might be a good place to get your bearings.