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Portland, Oregon
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Terry & Dave Taylor

Indio Date Festival

Desert Hot Springs: Which brings the Happy Travelers to the National Date Festival and County Fair. As County Fairs go, we've seen better. But, as we had never been to a Date Festival... well, the Indio Date Festival was the BEST Date Festival I have ever attended! On the way to Indio, we stopped by the one-hour photo shop where we had dropped-off DT's film Wednesday morning! Hey! They were busy! The proprietor was just a crack-up and rolled his eyes when we told him we were on our way to the Date Festival. He said it was hokey, but we should go just the same. We arrived at 11 o'clock, just in time to see the races! We are not talking horses...

Indio Date Festival Emu Races
Ostrich chariot race

Indio Date Festival Ostrich race
Ostrich bareback race

Before the races could begin, a rodeo queen rode through the arena on a horse, holding a US flag and singing the national Anthem. The Date Festival Queen Scheherazade and her court were introduced and then the chariots were released from the gate and the Gladiators lead them through a grueling (one lap) pace. I don't know if you can see from the photo, but the drivers use a small broom to steer! I do not think the animals were harmed, but it didn't look like they were having much fun either. Then, they asked children from the audience if they would like to enter a bird race... three adorable little boys, probably aged 6 to 8 years, volunteered. The birds were released - 3 huge roosters! The boys had to chase the roosters across the finish line to win. It was cute... but the poor roosters were exhausted. All three boys were given a free camel ride as a prize. Then, the big event of the day - the camel races!

Indio Date Festival
Omar on his camel

The "jockeys" had (very non-PC) names like Omar, Ahab the Arab (pronounced A-Rabb) and Sheik. I only could get one shot - they went by very fast - and I can't believe my luck in capturing this photo. They only went around the track once, they joked with the winner and then it was all over. Time to explore the fair.

We sampled hand-dipped ice creams while looking at the gem exhibits. Few of the 4-H animals were at the fair yet, but the llamas were already on display. There were busloads of school kids walking through the barns and the llamas did not look very happy about all the noise. I loved the commercial exhibits. A man was hawking a "Salsa Maker". I took one look at it and laughed - wondering how many suckers would buy this appliance, take it home and put it on the counter next to their food processor and say "Duh"!  There was also a bald man giving samples of shampoo! Finally, we found the date exhibit - in the Taj Mahal Building. The large date producers in the area had displays showing how dates were first transplanted from the Middle East and how they grew so well in this climate, etc. We sampled so many dates, we were over-sugared! Date shakes. Date cakes. Date bread. Not to mention every sort of date grown in California.
After all this excitement, we took a drive along the base of the mountains and headed back towards Palm Springs. The sun was out, and the wind was actually calming a bit! We stopped for a late lunch at the Blue Coyote Grill. We sat outside on an enclosed patio. It wasn't too warm, but we were out of the wind. I had heard about the black beans, so I ordered a "side". It would have fed a family!  I also had a quesadilla with chili peppers and cactus. DT had cheese enchiladas. It was a wonderful meal. We walked up the street to the Hadley Fruit Orchard shop to buy a few gifts. DT grabbed his clubs and was able to get in 9 holes at the RV park course before dark. We decided we were not going to be able to play much golf in windy Palm Springs, so we are going North tomorrow. 

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