The Birth of Kern County Pagan Festival
The Inaugural Kern County Pagan Festival occurred on November 11, 2017. Prior to this, upon the successful completion of the Fifth Annual Mystic Faire at Enchanted Cottage (which occurs the third Saturday of May), a few respected members within the local Pagan Community were sitting around talking about reinstating a Pagan Pride or an event specifically for Pagans. (It was actually one of many previous discussions on the subject brought up by various community members, but one that we felt needed to be seriously considered due to such strong interest.) The last Pagan Pride in the Bakersfield area occurred in or about 2010. Not quite sure what occurred thereafter, but that was the last event. We (Stan and Bruce) purchased Enchanted Cottage in November 2012, so we were not personally aware of the previous Pagan Pride events.
During the above discussion, questions were asked as to where such an event would be held, what to call it, whom we could get to appear, etc. We were all shooting ideas out loud and writing down the plausible thoughts. Throughout the conversation, we remembered that one of our friends, Solstice, happened to be good friends with author Ellen Dugan. We contacted Solstice to see if she would speak with her friend about the possibility of doing a book signing and lecture. Within a short period of time, we heard back from Ellen Dugan and she was thrilled to appear at our anticipated event. Ellen had some family events planned for certain dates in November, so the only date she would be available was Saturday, November 11, 2017 (or 11/11). (This date was actually Divinely inspired due to the fact that the 11th would be the first day of our sixth year owning Enchanted Cottage.)
Now, what to name the event? After a few ideas, we decided upon the name of Kern County Pagan Festival, primarily because we already owned the domain name, and it just sounded right to everyone present.
(NOTE: We did not choose a “Pagan Pride” name as we did not want to intrude on previous and present work done by others, and we wanted to respect their workings and lineage. We also did not want to comply with the many conditions and stipulations in using such a name, although we have the utmost respect for that organization. In fact, we have grown to help support LA/OC Pagan Pride held in Long Beach, California each October (do not miss it as many people work tirelessly to make this event so successful). Kern County Pagan Festival is privately funded through Enchanted Cottage, and, is therefore, not subject to the rules of Pagan Pride. We do not have sponsors (and are not sure we ever will), which is why we do charge an admission price to see and listen to the amazing presenters and experience some phenomenal rituals. In being separate from the Pagan Pride name, we did not do a clothing drive or food drive as that is a Pagan Pride concept that we did not wish to intrude upon. Besides, Enchanted Cottage does things throughout the year to show its support of various organizations. In other words, Kern County Pagan Festival is ever-so-slightly along the lines of PantheaCon in San Jose (held each February — usually around Valentine’s Day). We are in no way comparing our event to PantheaCon, but there are some commonalities. PantheaCon is an amazing event on a much larger scale which has been in existence for many years. Bearing this in mind, we simply desired to bring something special to the Bakersfield area, which happens to be very affordable for those who wish to attend, yet is close enough for many in Southern, Central and Northern California to experience.)
Now, back to the discussion: Who else can we get in addition to the amazing Ellen Dugan? Selena Fox! Who hasn’t heard of Selena Fox? We have been following her on social media, watching her YouTube channel, and had fallen in love with such a phenomenal soul. We went onto her website and sent a message. Much to our chagrin, we received a personal call from Selena the next day, and she basically interviewed us over the phone. During this “interview,” she wanted to know about us, our store, and why we wanted her to attend our event and do a lecture – and perhaps some rituals. By the time we finished our 60 minute conversation, she informed us that a contract would be emailed shortly, and she stated that she very much respected our vision for the Pagan Community here and beyond. She simply wanted to ensure that our hearts were of the right intent for this event. Of course, we were absolutely THRILLED to get Selena Fox here in Bakersfield. We were also fortunate enough to host the well-respected wizard, Oberon Zell Ravenheart, founder of the Grey School of Wizardry (introduced to us from Kim at Willow Root Wands), and the manager of the Green Man Store in North Hollywood, Griffin Ced. Each gentleman has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and is highly respected within Pagan Communities and traditions throughout the world.
With the help of those who supported us in this endeavor, the inaugural Kern County Pagan Festival turned out to be a fabulous event and was quite magickal. The Second Annual Kern County Pagan Festival is expected to be even better and even more magickal with more vendors! (This event is one of the only times Enchanted Cottage allows vendors space to show off their respectable talents. It is of the utmost importance that each vendor bring something unique to their booth.) We had lots of local vendors and vendors from out of town. (We did charge a reasonable flat fee for each space; however, there was no extra charge for electricity or anything else.) Additionally, each vendor was provided two (2) complimentary tickets to personally experience all the presenters as a special “thank you” for being here. Moreover, although there is a fee for tent admission to personally experience the lectures, there is never any admission fee to shop within the store or on the grounds. Each vendor did really well and we were absolutely thrilled for all of them.
Now, why do we charge an admission to see and listen to the presenters? Again, we are not a Pagan Pride event, so this isn’t necessarily a free event. Let’s just say that Bakersfield is not the sought after hub for people of this caliber, and not too many are willing to personally back such an event financially. Each talented presenter has a busy schedule, and wherever they go, whomever is in charge of bringing them to an event usually pays for them to appear. It is not unusual to pay air fare (round trip), lodging, food, travel time, honorarium fees, and an appearance fee. Believe us, it’s not cheap, but, in our opinion, it is worth it because each presenter has so much knowledge and information to share, and each attendee walks away with such valuable information. In short, our presenters are AMAZING!
Now, our goal? Our sole purpose in bringing Kern County Pagan Festival to fruition is to bring about education to not only Wiccans, Pagans, and Witches, but to other individuals who are searching for “something” and are yet open minded to a beautiful, nature-based spiritual path. It is imperative to try to bridge the gap between the various religions, traditions and individuals, yet respect each person and their path, even when that path may differ from our own. We’re not here to judge anyone, just support. Life is simply a journey and we believe we are trying to do the best we can with what we have. We have a never ending desire for education, knowledge and growth, and are excited to see where this journey takes us all. Stay tuned! It’s bound to be a fun and exciting ride!