The 70th Annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival wraps up on Sunday

Camel rides

INDIO, Calif. — While the rest of the country is dealing with snow and cold temperatures, it’s 90 degrees and sunny here at the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival in Indio, Calif. I attended on Valentine’s Day and spoke with couples who decided to make it a “date” at the festival.

One new addition to the fair is the Butterfly Encounter. It offers attendees the chance to feed and interact with six different species of butterflies. Look for it I’m the Junior Exhibit Building.

“It’s pretty cool man. I felt like a little kid,” said Michael Howse from San Bernardino. “It was fun and nice. Her sister’s boyfriend got a couple of butterflies on his head. I just got them with the stick. It’s new and different and fun. We’re going to check out some of the indoor exhibits, the rock exhibit and get some dessert.”

The Marvelous Mutts presents their thrilling dog sport entertainment show with some of the worlds finest canine athletes. It happens daily at noon, 2 p.m. and at 4 p.m. on the Shalimar Lawn.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAttendees were serenaded with a free concert by country music star Trace Adkins on Valentine’s Day.

“My favorite song is ‘One Hot Mama,'” said attendee Angie Maeda from Indio. “I’ve been here before. Many, many times and I’ve seen Trace many times, too.”

First-time fair goers Jordan Zerbel from West Covina and Wayland Zerbel from Ontario said they both like the song “Just Fishin.'”

Adkins performed all of his hits including his new single “Jesus and Jones.” He entertained audiences for about one hour and a half. Then, Adkins came out for an encore and sang a Bob Seger song.
“Heck yes. You betcha. I can’t wait,” said Lori Gracey, who was the first fan waiting in line for the concert. All of them are. There is no bad song, they’re all fabulous. So far so good. My first time ever at any kind of fair. It’s wonderful.

A monster truck show entertained guests at 3 and 5 pm. It was a big hit as the grandstands were packed to the gills.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are roaming the fair grounds each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are meeting fans and posing for photos inside the Junior Exhibit Building. I used to watch the TV show when I was a kid so I got a picture with them, too.

“It’s fun. I almost passed out once. But it’s fun,” said attendee Blake Gonzales from Rancho Mirage. “I was riding the Spaceship one that spins. We got off. I don’t know. I was out of it.”

Rawhide Express offers guests a fully narrated tour of the fair. You might want to make it your first stop to determine how you want to spend your day. Even better, it’s run by solar and battery power.

“I was excited about it. It’s definitely turned out really well,” said Anna Rumer, an attendee from Palm Springs. “I like Trace Adkins so we’ll stay. I like the rides.”

Her boyfriend, Patrick O’Neill, added: “We didn’t know it was the National Date Festival until we got here. But it works. We like some of the street performers. We just watched a performer. He was juggling and riding the unicycle. It was fun.”

The fair also features traditional favorites like corn dogs, chicken and ribs plus several carnival rides and games for the kids. It’s also one of the only county fairs I’ve ever been to with multiple train layouts on permanent display.

The 70th annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 21. For tickets and more info visit www.datefest.org
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The county fair’s main entrance on Highway 111 in Indio, Calif. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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The Smart Fellers are a Northern California based swing band. They welcome attendees after they enter the fair. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)
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It’s also one of the only county fairs I’ve ever been to with multiple train layouts on permanent display. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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Trace Adkins entertained fair goers on Valentine’s Day. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

The first fans in line for the Trace Adkins concert
Lori Gracey from Moreno Valley and Lynnette Howenstein from Long Beach were among the first fans in line for the Trace Adkins concert. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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The Butterfly Encounter was one of the new additions to the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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The fair also features traditional favorites like corn dogs, chicken and ribs. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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Dates are fruits that look like raisins but taste like grapes. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

 

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I used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show so I got a photo with them, too. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR.com)

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