The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival comes to Indio in the Coachella Valley every February beginning on the Friday before Presidents Day Weekend, offering unique entertainment, culinary, cultural and other experience for folks of all ages.
Perhaps the biggest draws are the entertainment and events, which are fun, family friendly and at no added cost. One crowd favorite is the camel and ostrich races- a staple of the Date Festival. These animals are not predictable, making for a lively and unexpected result in each race.
Other mainstays include the monster trucks and motocross, as well as the demolition derby- all of which are as loud as they are dirty if you’re sitting in the front rows. The outdoor stadium is intimate, bringing every fan close to the action.
The rides at the Date Fest are plentiful, with lines rarely longer than 10-15 minutes. Most of the rides are for the entire family, including the slide and swings, though there are plenty of rides for thrill seekers, including the Zipper. Unlimited rides for one day will set you back around $25.
The food at the Date Festival include all of the usual modern fair food offerings- from deep fried and BBQ to chocolate covered bacon and deep fried Twinkies. Among the most interesting food offers are the dates of all varieties, with date shakes a unique and popular offering to cool off.
The Coachella Valley Model Railroaders host a year-round exhibit at the fairgrounds with a detailed, miniature railroad society. This indoor exhibit also helps to beat the heat.
The festival is famous for the quantity and variety of animals, including a petting zoo and animals cared for by young students from the community as they learn the skills to become future farmers.
The Presidents’ Day parade runs in front of the main entrance allowing fans to meet The Date Fest’s Queen Scheherazade & Her Court, local politicians and more.
Located in the eastern end of the Coachella Valley, the Riverside County Fairgrounds are approximately the size of the Orange County Fair, but without the enormous crowds, traffic or distant parking. If you haven’t been, be sure to check it out. If you’ve been before, head back for another day at the fair.
Date Fest tickets range from free for kids 5 and under to $9 for adults at the gate. For more information, check out DateFest.org.