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History of the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival

The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival started as a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest in the Coachella Valley, the major commercial date-producing area in the western hemisphere.

Dates were an unknown commodity in the valley until 1903 when date palms were transplanted here from Algeria. With the popularity of the date gardens, the idea was planted for a date festival to be held in Indio City Park in 1921. The heavily publicized International Festival of Dates was promoted with an Arabian theme, a reference to the ancestral homeland of the date.

In 1937, the idea for an annual date festival came forth again and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors contracted the Indio Civic Club to organize and promote a third date festival. The newly re-named Riverside County Fair and the Coachella Valley Date Festival opened in 1938 and in 1940, the County invested $10,000 on 40 acres for the establishment of permanent fairgrounds. The grounds were expanded with the purchase of an additional 40 acres--including the date grove--eventually reaching its present-day size of 120 acres.

Today, the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival remains an integral part of the greater Coachella Valley community and a major tourist attraction. It continues the legacy of decades-old desert traditions while celebrating our history and community, and of course, providing fun and excitement for everyone. For more information and schedule of events for the 2019 fair, visit www.datefest.org.

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