Kid's enjoyed getting the chance to pet and interact with horses as part of the petting zoo. Photo by Jenna Fields
Kid's enjoyed getting the chance to pet and interact with horses as part of the petting zoo. Photo by Jenna Fields

The San Benito County Fairgrounds were teeming with energy and excitement on Sept. 30 as the fair’s opening welcomed over 1,300 children for Kid’s Day. Interactive and accessible, the fair’s Education Day school tours provided opportunities for young students to experience countless hands-on activities. 

Before carnival gates even opened, buses and cars transporting students on school field trips were arriving in vast quantities. After checking in at the Fairground Pavilion, school groups got the chance to interact with a wide variety of educational stations and experiences, receiving stamps on their Kid’s Day Passports with each new station. Participants had the opportunity to visit the Barnyard Buddies Petting Zoo, watch the FFA and 4-H Beef Show, check out different booths set up by community institutions, and be entertained by the talents of musical group Twinkle Time and the Magical Comedy of Alan Sands. 

Focusing on opening the fair up to the surrounding community and ensuring the accessibility of all it has to offer, Kids Day brought in a wide variety of attendees. 

“We had a friend that was organizing a homeschool group so we decided to come and let the kids enjoy the day,” said Shaina Shepherd, attending as a chaperone for her children’s homeschool group field trip. While her own children have grown up with access to San Benito County’s agricultural influence, other kids in her homeschool group were receiving their first in-person introduction. 

“It’s been great for them to be hands on and enjoy the animals, to get to be up close to them rather than just driving by on the road,” said Shepherd. 

Mari Romero, special education preschool teacher for the Early Childhood Special Education Center in Hollister, spoke to the importance of these interactive activities, especially for the 3-5 year olds in her care. 

“It’s a really nice experience for them,” said Romero, “Coming to the fair is one of the field trips they enjoy the most. We talk about the animals but here they actually can relate and actually see them in real life and pet them.”

Aside from the animals, students got the chance to visit with booths from various different institutions, volunteers, and groups across the county. Vendors ranged from the Sheriff’s Office to CalFire, Darek W. Banks Pediatric Dentistry to the Pinnacles National Park. 

Chris Symons, a Park Ranger at the Pinnacles National Park, explained the significance of this event when it comes to interacting with the local public, calling it “phenomenally important.” 

“You would not believe the number of people that live less than an hour from Pinnacles National Park and have never been to or never even heard of Pinnacles National Park,” said Symons, “We’re sitting here chatting with kids and often, despite living right at the doorstep of a national park, they’ve never been. Oftentimes, we are able to, through these types of outreach events, reach kids that might otherwise live their lives right in the shadow of a park without ever going there.”

Symons has been a Park Ranger since 2018 and has worked at not just the Pinnacles but the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks as well. For San Benito’s own national park, the opportunity to interact with the youth in the community is a welcome one. 

“We’ve always been pretty active in the surrounding community fairs and community events. It’s something that especially us as a smaller national park really appreciate and want to engage in,” said Symons. 

Aside from the countless educational experiences provided by the Fair’s Kid’s Day, it also offered free admission to children 12 and under. Attendees of the school tours  recieved a ticket and a stamp that would grant them admission on a future day.

Education Day and school tours were sponsored by Wafelbakker Anderson Orthodontics.

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Jenna is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Agriculture Communications. During her time at Cal Poly, she became heavily involved in the Young Cattlemen's Association, Beef Unit, and...