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...
Ostrich chariot 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!
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.