In some dim corner of the country, every food has a festival. For three days each April, the World Grits Festival engulfs St. George, South Carolina. Waikiki holds the Spam Jam. In Clinton, Montana, there is the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, or “Testy Festy,” a raucous, beer-soaked bash at which flash-fried, herb-battered bull balls get the royal treatment. In Riverside County, where approximately 35,000,000 pounds of dates are harvested each year from 5,000 acres of date palms dotting the Coachella Valley, the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival pays tribute.
Set to kick off at 9:30 a.m. this Friday, the 18th of February, with the traditional “Blessing of the Dates,” this year's 64th annual celebration will feature a broad collection of musical acts of varying quality, a multitude of special events, including the mildly strange Queen Scheherazade pagaent, and no shortage of sweet, sticky, fly-attracting date-based foodstuffs–not least of which, of course, is the illustrious date shake.
Check here for ticketing information and start planning an itinerary. On Saturday, take in an ostrich race, enter a date recipe contest, and enjoy the retro sounds of Third Eye Blind. On Monday, try an ostrich race, a parade, and some stirring motorcross. The following Saturday, check out an ostrich race, a livestock auction, and a demolition derby. Are you noticing a pattern here?
The Riverside County Fair and Date Festival runs February 18-27 at the Riverside County Fairgrounds (82-503 Hwy 111 in Indio), from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-midnight on weekends.