By Denise Ortuno Neil
If you’re looking for a fun event for the whole family, you must check out The 2017 Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival in Indio. This year, the fair will be celebrating its 71th year and runs from February 17th, thru February 26th . The event encompasses a down home feel, complete with everything that you might have found in a county fair in the old days…and a whole lot more.
I recall going to the fair when I was a pre-teen. My sister’s friend’s parents owned an empty lot across the street from the fair that they would charge fair-goers to park in. We would hang out there for a while, then cross the street to attend the Date Festival. It has grown in many ways since then, but has still retained the essence of its core, as a small town fair, that has now grown up.
The Date Festivals purpose is to celebrate the harvest of the Date Palm. The fair started out slowly in the 1920’s, and then years later, Riverside County took over the reins and purchased the grounds that the festival takes place on this very day. The fair grew from there. The Coachella Valley is a mammoth producer of dates, providing almost 100% of the sweet fruit to our nation. So a large scale fair to give the little fruit props, is more than appropriate.
The fair, while agriculturally based, has adopted many diverse kinds of entertainment. It has everything that you would want from a fair, from thousands of exhibits, to high profile performances, a petting zoo, food frenzy’s, and of course, great rides! The Date Festival is reasonably priced for general admission at only $10 ($9 if you book purchase online), and really has something for everyone.
This year, musical performances include, Country music by the Eli Young Band on Saturday, February 18th, Latin music with Voz de Mando on Sunday, February 19th, 70’s rock performed by the one and only Cheap Trick on Friday, February 24th and the funktastic band WAR on Saturday, February 25th. The Super Fiesta rounds out the entertainment on Sunday, February 26th, with Los Dareyes La Sierra and Sonora Santanera. One of the best parts is that you don’t have to pay extra for the entertainment, as it is included in the price of admittance to the fair.
On top of musical acts, the festivals most popular attractions include Camel and Ostrich races, and the ever exciting Monster Trucks and a Demolition Derby.
And if you have never taken a ride on a Camel, I highly suggest it, if just to say that you did. You will love those big eyes staring at you, not to mention the photo op. I rode one years ago when I filmed my TV show Coachella Valley This Week at the fair and I loved it!
The food is really something to experience too. I mean, there’s some serious fair food there. It is the first place that I ever tried a Fried Twinkie...and it was everything that they said it would be. Delish! Also the word is, is that there will be many vendors getting creative with the date itself, introducing new ways to consume the superfood.
The Riverside County Date Festival is fun for the whole family, or just the two of you, or with a group of friends. With a true county fair flare, and all that goes along with it, The Date Festival remains one of the most anticipated and regarded events in the Coachella Valley and an absolute favorite of the Palm Springs Local. Don’t miss it!!
For more information and tickets visit www.datefest.org