May 23, 2024

The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival is returning after a three-year hiatus on Feb. 17. The local fair, taking place Feb. 17-26, is set to be held at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, Calif.

The fair began as a festival celebrating the harvest of dates, Coachella Valley’s most popular fruit, in 1921. By 1947, fairgrounds for the festival were opened and have now become the home of the Riverside County Fair.

“There will be all kinds of amusement rides, and there will be all kinds of fair foods and all kinds of musical concerts every day,” said Merry Aronson, partner with MPower Media, the fair’s marketing team. “Entertainment and every food booth will be required to have a dish based on date food.”

The fair sees over 250,000 guests annually and is a community-oriented event. Some of the free attractions at the fair are pig races, a hypnotist named Mark Yuzik, balloonacy (balloon animals) and a sea lion splash show – a new attraction where guests can watch sea lions perform tricks. There will also be carnival rides, live music, date-cooking demonstrations, Blue Ribbon competitions and fair food.

“I would recommend people to go because it is good to know your community,” said Edgar Gaspar, senior music composition major. “I would recommend them to try out the food, especially the funnel cakes.”

Those interested in going to the fair can purchase tickets online or at the gate. There will also be an option online to buy a season pass for $30 to attend all ten days.

Children under 5 years old will have free admission, youth between the ages of 6-12 will be able to enter for $12 at the gate, and senior citizens will be admitted for $13 at the gate. For adults, the cost of admission is $10. Carnival wristbands will be charged separately, costing between $32-37 at the gate or $30 online.

Although the event is in Indio, which is a 90-minute drive from campus, the event has captured the attention of some California Baptist University students.

“I think being family-friendly and having lots of rides and attractions and great food options is what makes a fair very memorable,” said Carissa Santoyo, freshman biochemistry and molecular biology double major.

The fair is set to have some musical events as well. Concert tickets will be sold separately and prices vary.
Some musical concerts and guests include a Tejano Fest on Feb. 18, Pancho Barraza on Feb. 19, ­Flo Rida on Feb. 23 and The Fray on Feb. 24.

“I am really interested in going to the fair,” Gaspar said. “I normally want to go see live music because I am a music guy and composer. I want to see what is around me and what is around my area and school. I want to see my community.”

The artists were announced recently, so students may still be able to secure tickets to their favorite artists’ shows.

“It’s not too late for anything,” Aronson said. “Some of the [performers] have been announced. It is not too late to get those [concert tickets].”

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