Twelve-year-old Elijah Stevenson, the dinosaur enthusiast, has earned First Place and Best of Show ribbons three years consecutively with this year’s Kern County Fair win. In addition, to his surprise, Elijah earned the coveted “CEO Award”, which was awarded by Mike Olcott, CEO of the Kern County Fair. You may remember Elijah, who was featured in this publication in 2019 for his spectacular Dinosaur Island exhibit. The display featured waterways, bridges, lights, and theme-scenes from the popular Jurassic Park series.

Elijah was sorely disappointed that the 2020 fair was canceled due to Covid. So, this summer Elijah got busy working to build an even more exciting exhibit than his previous. He collected things from craft stores, household items, his toy box, his fast food toy collection and from his enormous dinosaur collection. His hard work and focus paid off. Elijah’s 2021 exhibit featured his version of a fantasy theme park. As one’s eyes meander through the park, you notice the dinosaur T-rex Tycoon Rollercoaster, Dinosaur Rainforest, colorful Ferris wheel and Basketball Dunk Mountain rides. This exhibit is wildly imaginative, and judges agreed it was worthy of ribbons for first place and “Best

of Show” in the Junior Division Hobbies category. As with his 2019 entry, the theme park captured the hearts of all who viewed it. The exhibit was deemed to be one of the most viewed exhibits at this year’s fair.

Elijah, who was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, is currently a 7th grader at Rosedale Middle School. Aside from his extraordinary knowledge of dinosaurs, Elijah is quite creative. His mother Nerissa Stevenson, a widow, talks about her determination in surrounding Elijah with positive energy and influences since the cancer death of his father in 2010. She states that focusing on his capabilities rather than his disability has been monumental in him reaching goals and milestones. Nerissa says God gives the biggest challenges to His greatest warriors. Elijah’s story is certainly one of from trial to triumph by the grace of God. She hopes Elijah’s accomplishments will not only encourage parents with children on the autism spectrum, but with other disabilities as well.