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Friday, Feb 22 2013 12:02 AM

Welcome to spring in Bakersfield

Compiled by Marissa Lay, Jasmine D. Lowe, Matilde Ruiz and Jeneal Wood

There is no better way to enjoy the spring than to be outdoors, especially before the Bakersfield heat kicks in. And there are plenty of events and activities locally to help kick off the season. Here are just a few of them.

Spring's wildflowers

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The spring season is not complete without taking a trip to see the wildflowers surrounding Bakersfield.

Wildflowers galore: The spring season is not complete without taking a trip to see the wildflowers surrounding Bakersfield. Not much can compare to the serene feeling one can get from gazing at the wildflowers that come with spring. Pack the car, pack a picnic, pack a camera and enjoy a fun-filled day with all that nature produces.

The prime blooming period for California's wildflowers is from March to May. They can be viewed at several locations including the Carrizo Plain, along the foothills of Bakersfield, off Granite Road, at the Audubon Kern River Preserve, in the Elkhorn Plain near Highway 58, and at Wind Wolves Preserve, to name a few.

The amount of wildflowers during the season depends heavily on the previous season's weather. To check the general wildflower status, visit desertusa.com/wildflo, or call The Theodore Payne Foundation's "wildflower hotline," during the weekends from March to May, at 818-768-3533.

Take a swim

Underwater EGGStravaganza: Skip the traditional egg hunt this year and take part in the Underwater EGGStravaganza at 11 a.m. March 23 at the McMurtrey Aquatic Center instead. For only $5 per person, the entire family can hunt for weighted eggs underwater. It's an event for all ages, and all swimming abilities. Any child shorter than 48 inches must be accompanied by a parent in the water.

T-shirts will be available for $10, and goodies will be awarded for egg hunters' efforts. And be sure to bring your camera for the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny.

For more information: 852-7430, or download the event brochure at bakersfieldparks.us.

Need for speed

March Meet: This year the March Meet is celebrating 55 years of drag racing. There is much to see and do at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, which features drag racing, hot rod showings and various vendors. Be on the edge of your seat as cars roar down the track, and check out the fine craftsmanship of classic hot rods. Join in on the fun with fellow car lovers while you camp out in your RV for the weekend, or just visit for the day.

March Meet runs from March 7 to 10. Tickets: famosoraceway.com.

Join the Scots

18th Scottish Games and Gathering: The Kern County Scottish Society will be invading the Kern County Fairgrounds on March 23 with the 18th annual Kern Scottish Society Games and Gathering. Bring friends and family and enjoy a day full of entertainment, Celtic music and Scottish culture. Scottish Heavy Athletics is hosting the 2013 games.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Scottish party and dancing and Ceilidh portion beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adult general admission, $13 for senior citizens (60 and over), and free for students, military personnel with ID, and children 10 and under. Tickets for the Ceilidh are $16, or $26 for a combined games and Ceilidh ticket.

For more information: kernscot.org or call 865-8890.

Take a run

Thin Mint 5K: The first 1,000 runners to register for the Thin Mint 5K will receive a box of Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies at the race, on March 2. And you won't have to feel guilty about eating a box of cookies, because of all the calories you will burn from running a 5K.

The race begins at 8:30 a.m., and takes place at The Marketplace. Registration is $30 for adults, and $10 for kids. Runners will receive a free T-shirt, goodie bag and, of course, the cookies. All proceeds go to the Girl Scouts. For more information, and to register: thinmintrun.com.

Kilt Classic 5K Run: Wearing a kilt is encouraged for this 5K run on March 9 at 2900 Royal Scots Way, benefitting the Highland High School track and field team. Awards will be given to the top three female and male finishers in each age group.

Pre-registration is $20, $15 without a T-shirt, and $25 on race day. Deadline is March 1. Information: 872-2777 or steven_montanio@kernhigh.org or smontanio@sbcglobal.net.

St. Patrick's Day 5K: Dress in all green attire for this run on March 16, and show off your St. Patrick's Day spirit. The second annual Cal State Bakersfield PEAK St. Patrick's Day Run will feature a 5K or one mile run, a costume contest and a raffle for prizes.

The event begins with registration at 7 a.m. at The Park at River Walk, and the race begins at 8:30 a.m. All ages are welcome, and awards will be given out for different age group categories. Pre-registration deadline is March 11, and is $22. Registration on the day of the race is $25. For more information: email kgrappendorf@csub.edu or call 654-2378. Pre-register: active.com.

Move to the beat

47th Bakersfield Fiesta: Grab your partner, put on your dancing shoes and head to Kern County Fairgrounds from March 15 through 17 for a fun-filled fiesta. Whether you have square danced for years, or you have never managed to move your body to the rhythm of a beat, you can still join in on the excitement.

Don't forget to put on your bolos, kerchiefs and cowboy boots. To keep in the traditional modern Western square dancing theme, attendees are required to dress in square dancing attire in the evening.

Requests for rounds start at 6 p.m. March 15, and the events continue until 8 p.m. the same day, throughout the day on Saturday, and on Sunday morning as well. Pre-registration for the event is $22 per night, or $25 per night at the door.

For more information, or to pre-register: bakersfieldfiesta.com, call 399-3658 or email elglines@att.net.

Enjoy your Earth, space

"Dynamic Earth" and "Black Holes" at The William M. Thomas Planetarium: Take a seat underneath the beautiful images of the cosmos on a guided tour through our universe. The William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College will serve as a venue for two different world-changing presentations: "Dynamic Earth" and "Black Holes."

The "Dynamic Earth" presentation, which reveals the story of our planet through up-to-date computer simulations on a dome screen, will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 21. The "Black Holes" presentation will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 18. Tickets for "Black Holes" will go on sale March 21. The doors for both shows open at 7 p.m. and close promptly at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for adults are $6.50, and $4.50 for seniors and children. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets: tinyurl.com/planetariumtickets, or call 395-4326.

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