Save the Date Next Year for the Riverside County Fair

The annual Date Festival held in Indio is one of the valley’s biggest events, running from Feb. 16-25 this year. It began as a celebration of the date harvest in the area, which accounts for 95 percent of the whole nation’s date production.

In 1938, it became the Riverside County Fair and Coachella Valley Date Festival. This name change reflected a huge explosion in its popularity, with thousands of more participants and an increase in the amounts of events offered. It has continued growing in popularity ever since, except for a short stint during WWII where the fair was canceled.

Nowadays, the festival includes a huge parade that takes place in the streets in most of Old Town Indio, as well as many different events, including concerts and monster truck jamborees.

It has been hosted with an “Arabian Nights” theme and a pageant that provides scholarships for three high school students, with the first prize winner being crowned Queen Scheherazade. This year, that honor was held by Keanna Garcia from Palm Desert High, while the two princesses were Sianna Gonzales and Caedwyn Lethlean from Shadow Hills High.  

There are lots of cool things to check out at the fair, Karina Maciel ‘18 said, “It’s like a miniature theme park that celebrates our valley.” She highly recommended seeing the hypnotist show and riding the Ferris wheel at night.

One Blackhawk, Michelle Vu, had the opportunity to be hypnotized as part of the show. She said that she was able to participate because she was wearing a bright shirt and had no compunctions about getting up on the chair and yelling. During the performance, she recalls feeling relaxed but wasn’t aware of what she did until afterward. There was a video taken of her performance, but readers who wish to see it will have to ask her personally.

Another memorable show is Hilby the German Juggle Boy, a charismatic performer that mixes tricks and stunts with a lighthearted comedy about his own life as well as puns and commentary on the world and even his own performance.

Maciel personally is very happy that she was able to experience the fair one last time before going to college, and that she has overcome her childhood fear of some of the bigger rides.