CASEY CHRISTIE/THE CALIFORNIAN
At Saturday's Pet Fair at the fairgrounds, Meagan England from Wind Wolves Preserve holds a gopher snake for the general public to view and learn about. See more photos form the event at bakersfield.com.
Antics unleashed at annual event for worthy cause
Saturday, Oct 04 2014 04:50 PM
BY JOHN COX The Bakersfield Californian firstname.lastname@example.org
The cause was admirable and many of the exhibitors educational, but what really made Saturday's Kern County Pet Fair worth the trip was the goofy fun.
Where else can people of all ages take their family and pets, free of charge, to watch and compete in silly contests, meet and learn about exotic animals and -- if they're not already full up -- take home a new, four-legged friend?
Sponsored by the Tobyas Project, a local nonprofit that aims to instill greater appreciation for life among young people, the second annual fair was intended mainly to promote the adoption of dogs there for the taking.
That it did, and so much more.
There was a pet pageant; a most-obedient-pet contest; a cutest (and, conversely, ugliest) pet contest; and a "Greatest Pet Story" competition.
The last of these was won by 12-year-old Marion Houk, who wrote about his family's adoption of "an ugly, skinny, dirty, sad faced mutt" named Hank. The story tells how the dog overcame fear to befriend the boy and now protects him every night from "the Boogie man."
Hank, all 146 pounds of him, was on hand Saturday to share the glory, at one point getting his photo taken by an exhibitor at the event, Pawsitive Portraits.
The dog's adopted mother, Erica Wood of Bakersfield, said the event was both entertaining and constructive, in light of Kern's homeless pet overpopulation.
"I think it'll continue to get bigger," she said of the pet fair. "I think all the kids are having fun."
Of course they were. Extending inside and outside Harvest Hall at the Kern County Fairgrounds, there were snakes and lizards, tortoises, cats and dogs. Clowns made easy friends, while corn dogs made tasty treats.
Behind it all was a serious message.
"The main focus, obviously, is pet adoption," said Julie Vargas, the pet fair's sponsorship coordinator and emcee. She was hopeful the event would equal or beat last year's event total of nine adoptions.
One of the exhibitors, The Cat People, handed visitors information about its goal of establishing a feline adoption center and sanctuary in Bakersfield. It also provided referrals for spay and neuter vouchers.
Marleen Ray, the nonprofit's shop manager, said she hopes the pet fair will grow, if only to educate more people about how they can help abandoned animals.
"It gives us a chance to talk to people and tell them" about animals' needs, she said
Lots of animals, mostly dogs, were out for the Pet Fair.
Erica Shimko holds her poodle, Ryker, while purchasing a refreshment at one of the foo booths on Saturday at the Pet Fair.
Brother and sister Frank and Monique Vargas entertain participants in Saturday's Pet Fair.
Two dogs make friends at Saturday's Pet Fair.