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.
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.
Attendees 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.'”
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.
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.