Kern Life: McFARLAND: Longtime agricultural hotspot offers outdoor activities | Bakersfield life

Since its founding in 1909 around a small farming settlement called Hunt’s Siding, the community of McFarland has become the eighth most populous town in Kern County, with a population of over 14,000. The town, located along Highway 99 between Bakersfield and Delano, has not strayed far from its roots and continues to supply Kern’s production of major crops like potatoes and cotton.

McFarland’s current crest features a fearless runner, representing the sport that brought the city statewide and eventually national exposure: cross-country. Under legendary coach Jim White, McFarland High has won nine state titles in the space of 15 years, a feat that was commemorated – if somewhat fictionalized – in the 2015 Disney film “McFarland, USA “. Despite having a total enrollment of less than 1,000 students, McFarland resisted the big schools for decades.

While McFarland’s athletes have traditionally trained by running out of town to the east or south, there are plenty of ways for visitors to experience the outdoors within the city limits at one of the many parks .

Many parks: From McFarland’s Central Park adjacent to Highway 99, home to several of the Cougars’ athletic facilities, to the new Jim White “Blanco” Park on the southeast outskirts of town, there’s certainly no shortage of outdoor gathering spots. . Browning Road Park to the northeast includes a playground, basketball courts, and soccer fields. Munoz, Ritchey and Villa Del Caribe parks on the west side round out the city’s main offerings.

Filming locations : For fans of the movie “McFarland” (of which there must be plenty, considering it made an estimated $45.7 million at the box office), take a stroll down Sherwood Avenue near the high school or look for the restaurant and the side market is which director Niki Caro was keen to include, as she told The Fresno Bee in 2015. The production actually filmed primarily in Camarillo, Ventura County, but tried to pull most of his 11 days at McFarland in the fall of 2013 to lend some authenticity to the production.

McFarland Branch Library: Although the future of the Clara M. Jackson branch is uncertain – the local police department is considering converting it into a new police station – it currently serves as a popular gathering place for local children and would serve anyone very well. who stop with children. If you stop to seek respite from the heat, know that the building is only open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but in its limited hours it manages to contain a litany of activity. On any given Thursday, a child might be able to watch a ventriloquist show, build a lava lamp, watch an educational film, and indulge in some retro games.

Famous dragstrip: Kern County is something of a mecca for car racers and Famoso, located a short drive to the southeast, is one of the main reasons why. Home to the March Meet and Hot Rod Reunion in October, the circuit hosts some of the National Hot Rod Association’s oldest and most iconic events. In the months between these historic races, however, Famoso never gets too quiet. Its Summit series, for example, runs through spring.

Western Stockman Market: On the way back to McFarland from the tour, you can stop at the Idle Spur Cafe for a burger, or maybe buy some whole cows at the adjacent Western Stockman’s Market. The cattle auction yard hosted the 2000 World Livestock Auctioneers Championship, but if you’re visiting on a Monday you might be in line to see one of the small-scale, fast-paced cattle auctions that make the market work.

Journalist Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

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