Local News

Monday, Jun 17 2013 06:31 PM

Nut festival organizers look to improvements next year

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A large waffle cone filled with ice cream was a nice treat for Brooke Hartsell during the first Nut Festival Saturday in Bakersfield.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Even successful events can do with a little adjustment here and there.

Parking, seating, security, currency -- all have come up as possible areas for improvement as organizers of Saturday's inaugural Kern County Nut Festival take stock of what was, by many accounts, a big success.

"It's not like we forgot to put Porta Potties out or something like that," Co-Chairwoman Beth Pandol said.

By some early estimates, more than 9,000 people paid to get into the daylong celebration of pistachios, almonds and walnuts at the Kern County Museum. Official figures, including total receipts, aren't expected to be released until Wednesday at the earliest.

Only 5,000 tickets had been printed out, and so some had to be reused -- a good problem to have for a first-year event.

Organizers said Monday that although attendees had plenty to do, eat and listen to, more might have been done to make their day more convenient and comfortable.

Co-Chairwoman Sheryl Barbich mentioned "Nutty Bucks," the event-specific currency that helped officials keep track of sales. She said the bills, known informally at "nut bucks," confused some people and, as a result, might disappear next year in favor of straight cash.

It also might make sense to rework some aspects of the parking, said Bob Lerude, a member of the organizing committee and director of the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department.

He said many attendees wrongly assumed that the main museum entrance was the best place to park. But he said they ended up walking a long way to enter the festival.

Trolleys making loops through the parking areas wouldn't hurt, either, he said, given how far some people had to walk to and from their cars.

Security could stand to be toned down a bit, too, he said.

"From a safety side, we were probably a little bit over the top," he said.

Also, more seating and shade near the live music area might help, he added.

"I think, overall, I think it was very good," Lerude said, saving particular praise for the part of the festival designed for kids, such as jump houses, a climbing wall and face-painting.

Pandol called the event "tremendously successful," saying an event that big will always leave room for positive changes.

The festival's organizing committee will gather soon to talk over the event, noting its strengths and weaknesses, Pandol said.

"We're going to evaluate," she said. "We really have to take some time and figure out how it went."

She expressed a small measure of frustration with the fact that people parked by the main museum entrance rather than closer to Stramler Park.

Organizers had tried to be clear about that, she said.

"People sometimes don't read what you've (told) them," Pandol said.

 

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