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A Ride at the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival
Randy Heinitz/Flickr


Riverside County Fair & Date Festival

Want a date? You’re guaranteed to get one at the Riverside County Fair & Date Festival, the Indio extravaganza honouring the sweet, sticky fruits of local dates.

The first date palms were planted in the Coachella Valley in the early twentieth century, having been brought here from Algeria. The date palms proliferated and the first fair launched in 1921 to celebrate the end of the date harvest. Today, this area is the biggest commercial date-producing area in the western hemisphere.

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 big musical acts, competitions (from bull-riding to monster trucks), and a generous helping of desert-sultan vibes. Check out the annual Camel & Ostrich Races (you may be surprised by how fast those ostriches can run), and 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.

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.