Want a date? You’re guaranteed to get one at the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival, the nearly 100-year-old extravaganza honoring the sweet, sticky fruit that’s held every February in Indio. As the biggest commercial date-producing area in the western hemisphere, the Coachella Valley has good reason to celebrate the end of the harvest season.
Sip the fair’s creamy date shakes—said to be one of the best ways to chill out in the desert—and any number of date-accented fair foods, from bacon-wrapped dates to frozen cheesecake slices dipped in chocolate then also rolled in dates.
Beyond the midway of classic rides, the fair’s entertainment always includes concerts by big musical acts, competitions (from bull-riding to monster trucks), and a generous helping of desert-sultan vibes. Check out the Arabian Nights–themed nightly musical pageant, which first started at the fair in the 1940s. Each year the fair also has a reigning Queen Scheherazade and court, comprised of a Princess Dunyazade and Princess Jasmine, and a 10-car demolition derby, ranked as the best in Southern California (the driver of the last car still running wins).
To immerse yourself in the date culture, go watch one of the daily cooking demonstrations in the Taj Mahal building, and be sure to take plenty of the goodies home. Before going, download the official Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival app for a full rundown of events, ticket information, a schedule of performers, and more.