You know that place often referred to as the armpit of California? Oh come on, you know the one: It’s the brunt of many jokes, graces top 10 lists for worst air quality, most miserable cities, and more. Yes, it is beautiful Bakersfield, CA, and I’m proud to call it my hometown. Sure, I’ve moved away and when people ask me if I’d ever go back I scoff and snort, but there’s something charming about the Central Valley town where I grew up. While located in California, Bakersfield has an almost Southern charm and the people speak their own language (both literally and figuratively). You know you’re from Bakersfield when:
1) You love the Kern County Fair – You know it starts in September and you’re probably planning a trip back just to visit the fair. After all, who doesn’t love to watch 4-H and FFA kids compete for best in show, eat too much funnel cake, and watch a rodeo? You also know not to venture into the Midway after dark unless you want to get shanked.
2) Basque food is your favorite kind of cuisine – There are multiple Basque restaurants in Bakersfield, such as Wool Growers. The food is amazing and is an institution in Bakersfield, but requires a lot of explanation for those in other parts of country. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “The Basque region is located in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain…” well, I’d have about twenty dollars. Speaking of twenty dollars, if you’re from Bakersfield you say “twunny” dollars (see, we do speak our own language).
3) The only extreme weather you’ve ever missed school for is FOG – Snow day? How about a two-hour fog delay? These were the days dreams were made of growing up. You’d sit in front of the television watching the morning news on KGET-TV just waiting for your school district’s name to scroll by on the ticker at the bottom of the screen. When it did, you rejoiced and either went back to bed or turned on your favorite cartoons.
I’ll always love a harvest festival that is tied to an actual harvest, karaoke nights at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace, and Dewar’s chews. While some may think Bakersfield is the worst place on earth, I know great restaurants like Luigi’s and Mexicali make this untrue and I’ll always think Bakersfield is better than Fresno. I’ve been to my share of parties in fields, I’m an expert at the best dirt roads to take home, and I know a kid or two who drove a tractor to high school to be funny. These days I live in a suburb of Los Angeles where the only horse properties are $10,000,000+ homes, but I’ll never forget my roots and have an awesome world champion belt buckle for horseback riding that I can wear next time I dress as a cowboy for Halloween.
What are your favorite things about your hometown?