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All is fair in this dining adventure

September 23—With the Kern County Fair underway, it’s only fitting that this column takes a look at some of the new ticket prices.

At first I didn’t try the lobster nachos, which are new at Sharkey’s this year. Having had lobster fries in the past, I was in no rush to drop $20 on these nachos topped with an Alfredo sauce. I’m not saying I won’t come back just to satisfy my curiosity, but I really want to see what they look like first.

I first ate at Pacific Create Hawaiian Teriyaki, which is new this year. The best option to share with someone who doesn’t like a lot of vegetables is the stir-fried noodles and chicken.

For $15, you get a generous plate of noodles and minced chicken drizzled with teriyaki sauce. We split it between the two of us, but if you’re big on sharing, this would be a great filling (and not fried) family choice.

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Also have to shout out that the frozen POG ($10) was delicious. The frozen blend of passion fruit, orange and guava juice (POG — get it?) was served in a plastic cup with a refillable lid for $5. The juice is also available in a non-frozen variety for $8.

Following a recommendation from fellow TBC staffer Ishani Desai about the delicious horchata at Aguas Frescas, I headed over to the concession, which landed a primo spot where Martin has stood for decades.

Because I was still working at POG, I opted for a potato taco ($4.50). It was a good size for a snack, packing soft potato, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cotija and sauce inside a fried shell. Added some salsa from the condiments area and I was good to go.

The menu also includes a chipotle tuna taco ($8) that could be interesting as well as a churro bowl ($12) on its specialty menu.

Nov’s Soul Spot is set up as a concession this year, but don’t expect your usual soul food favorites. The local restaurant serves a variety of waffles with signature options, including the Baconator, topped with bacon, syrup and ice cream; Elvis Presley, with bananas, peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream; and peaches and cream.

Signature waffles are $13, or you can build your own (with up to five toppings) for $15. Toppings include assorted fruits, chocolate chips, sprinkles, Oreos and more. You can also add toppings to signature waffles for $3.

Note: These are large four-quadrant waffles that can usually support a fried chicken breast so you don’t leave hungry. This is also easy to share by dividing it into quarters and spreading the toppings across each.

Local concessions Kern County Basque Club, Kern County Fire Department, Bakersfield Fire Department and National Order of the Trench Rats, all of whom sat out last year’s fair, are back.

I enjoyed my traditional cheeseburger along with an order of chili cheese fries from Trench Rats, a veteran-run stand. Not only are the volunteers there friendly, but the location of the booth makes it easy to people watch.

Also returning this year is Willamette Valley Pie Co., which is a favorite stop for my parents. I picked up peaches and Oregon berries – a mix of blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, marjorams and raspberries – cobblers ($8 each) for them and a slice of apple caramel ($8) with fresh whipped cream ($3 extra) for me that I went out for the night.

I’m already planning several visits during the fair, which continues through October 2nd, to also try other new concessions Mama Marines (Mexican food), Rogue Concessions (pastrami and Italian sandwiches) and Cabo Corner (fish and shrimp tacos) like Lemoine Creperie. A newer addition that I have yet to try, the trailer sells a large variety of both sweet and savory crepes with some bubbly options.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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