It's that time of year when everyone heads for downtown Tehachapi to kick up their heels for three full days of Boots, Buckles and Spurs — this year's theme of the highly anticipated Tehachapi Mountain Festival.

The 56th annual event promises to be every bit as exciting as in previous years. Residents, visitors and tourists come from far and wide to enjoy the carnival rides, watch the bull riders and take in the annual parade.

According to Pat Doody of the Tehachapi Tourism Committee, the annual festival has a major positive impact on the local economy.

"Being the oldest event that we have running, it now brings into the city 30,000 to 40,000 extra people," Doody said. "They all stay at the hotels, they eat at our restaurants, and they spend their money and this is always good for tourism."

Doody said that the Visitor Center, located at 200 W. Tehachapi Blvd., will remain open during the festival, offering information and flyers on year-round events and activities as well.

"We are hoping that everybody will come back and spend more time with us," Doody said.

Ida Perkins, president of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Doody about the tourism aspect of the event; however, the main attraction is it offers fun for the whole family.

"We invite folks to come up to the nice, cool, mountain air and enjoy all the activities that the Tehachapi Mountain Festival has to offer," said Perkins.

Friday, Aug. 16

Mountain Festival will kick off Friday, Aug. 16, at the normally vacant field across the street from the Claude L. Wells Education Center, located at the corner of D and Robinson streets. It will be bursting with excitement once the rides go up at the Festival Carnival. The carnival will begin at 6 p.m., with the rides shutting down by 11 p.m.

Presale tickets will be sold at a reduced price at the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce office, and will cost $16 for 20 tickets until 3 p.m. Aug. 16. Ticket prices will increase to $1.50 each, $20 for 25 tickets, and $45 for 50 tickets if purchased at the carnival booth.

Also at 6 p.m., the VFW will host its annual dinner and dance at 221 W. Tehachapi Blvd. Live music will be performed from 7 to 11 p.m.

For those who prefer rodeo action, the PRCA Rodeo will come to the Milano Arena of the Tehachapi Event Center & Rodeo Grounds, located at 601 S. Dennison Road at 7 p.m.. Presale tickets will be available for a $3 discount for $16 at Albertsons, Hemme Hay and the Chamber of Commerce office. Seniors, military personnel and children ages 5 through 12 will be admitted for $12, and children under the age of 5 will be admitted free.

The rodeo will feature the newly crowned Miss Rodeo Kern County Queens and cowboys from across the country.

Saturday, Aug. 17

Saturday's events will kick off early with the annual Mountain Gallop 5k/10k run, sponsored by the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District. Registration for the race will begin at 6 a.m. at Philip Marx Central Park. The race will commence at 7:30 a.m. Register online at tvrpd.org.

From 7 to 9:30 a.m., the American Legion Post 221 will host their annual Pancake Breakfast at the Veterans Hall, 125 E. F St. The breakfast features all you can eat pancakes, sausage, coffee and juice. Tickets cost $6 for adults and $4 for children 10 and younger. Tickets bought at the door will cost $1 more.

At 7:30 to 9 a.m., the annual Mountain Festival Parade will begin lining up in the Big K parking lot, with the parade to begin at 10 a.m. on F Street. This year, organizers expect about 5,000 people will attend and watch the 100 participating entries of equestrians, commercial floats and color guards.

Head on down to Philip Marx Central Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. where the Arts & Crafts Fair & Park Festival will be in full swing. This year, 60 vendors will participate, featuring handmade jewelry, clothing, leather purses, photography, quilts, toys, metal yard art and more.

Local nonprofit organizations will sell mouth-watering food and a beer garden will be on location. There will also be games for the kiddies. Admission is free.

The Festival Carnival will reopen to the public at noon Saturday, with rides to continue swinging until 11 p.m.

For those who missed the rodeo Friday night, not to worry... Another one will be held starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, featuring all the same attractions.

The VFW will hold a second dinner on Saturday, with live music starting at 6 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 18

Sunday's attractions will kick off at 9 a.m. with Thunder on the Mountain's annual Car and Truck Show in Downtown Tehachapi on Green and F streets and in Centennial Plaza. Event parking will begin at 6 a.m., with the car show to continue through 3 p.m.

If you have never seen one of Thunder on the Mountain's car shows, you are in for a big treat as this year will feature 350 entries. A 50/50 drawing will be held with the top prize of $1,000 to be awarded.

If you didn't get a chance to shop for handcrafted goodies on Saturday, don't worry as the Arts & Crafts Fair & Park Festival will return to Philip Marx Central Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Festival Carnival will reopen its rides to the public from noon to 9 p.m., when Mountain Festival will come to an end.