A visitor drives in from over the Grapevine and into the thin layer of smog covering the lid of the Central Valley that has been collected from cites all over. The non-local knows only of what he has been told. For the strange new face, Bakersfield is this mystic town filled with locals riding horses on city streets in barren desert. However, he eventually changes his tune after his personal tour guide and former local resident takes him on a journey.
The stranger is taken onto the fertile land, where the majority of the nation’s produce is grown. The visitor realizes how close everything is to the city at the base of the valley. The mountains of Tehachapi, Lake Isabella, Los Angeles, the beaches along the coast, and the family owned farms and dairies, surround the growing city creating new and exciting events and ideas for vacations.
He learns about the rich culture where famed musicians and a unique sound have emerged at Buck Owens Crystal Palace, and gets a glimpse of the local culture and art scene at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, California Living Museum (CALM), the Metro Gallery, and the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History.
The “First Friday Art Walk” event later that night leaves the visitor in awe, while every local artist opens their galleries and shops to show off their beautiful work. Vendors sell food from local eateries, and the young adults grab cocktails from the lively bars. The lights hung above the streets and the live music lead the visitor and the guide to Dagny’s, a local coffee shop, where some of the locals recite poetry in front of other poetic locals.
The guide lets the visitor read all about Bakersfield in the magazine that she used to write for at the local family-owned, popular candy shop and creamery called Dewar’s, after eating dinner at one of the many Basque restaurants in the area. The visitor later leaves the tight-nit community with a different view of Bakersfield.
No longer is the city a barren wasteland that you may or may not see while driving on the 5 from Southern California to Northern California. Bakersfield was no longer a pit stop to Vegas, or some terrible place. Bakersfield had a culture and an attitude all of its own, and the visitor couldn’t wait to visit the city again—although not during the heat of the summer in the time known for easily frying eggs on the sidewalk.