Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 Riverside County Date Festival - Indio

The Date Festival is up and running in Indio, CA until Feb 22.

If you haven't been, you must give it a visit if only to see contemporary re-imaginings of American pop Orientalism at its finest, including a daily Arabian Nights show, date ice cream shakes and camel races.

I'll try and get over there next weekend and post some pictures.

Here is an article (also I pasted it below) from the Desert News about opening day:

Information about the festival:

Food, Fun and Entertainment
What: Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival
When: Continuing today until Feb. 22
Hours: 10 a.m to 10 p.m. On weekends the carnival is open until midnight.
Where: Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82-503 Highway 111, Indio
Cost: $8 general admission, $7 for seniors age 55 and older, and $6 for children ages 5 to 12. Children younger than 5 admitted free.
Parking: $7
Information: or 800-811-3247

Arabian Nights celebrates music, dance, costumes
Aldrich M. Tan • The Desert Sun • February 15, 2009

When the sun goes down, the spotlight rises on the mid-sized Arabian Nights set for the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival.

For months, the set remained unused on the empty fairgrounds in Indio.

But during the fair, the stage comes alive with a nightly pageant full of music, dance, and shimmering costumes.

The Arabian Nights-themed musical is at 6:15 p.m. nightly and free with fair admission.

It is a major part of the festival's tradition, said Richard De Haven, one of the show's producers.

“It is one the oldest shows in the valley,” De Haven said.

Each year's show focuses on a different tale from “One Thousand and One Nights,” De Haven said.

This year's tale is “Ali Baba and the Den of Thieves.”

The pageant organizers installed a large cave on the stage that contains at least 100 shimmering lights specifically for the performance, De Haven said.

Auditions for the show took place in October, De Haven said. The rehearsals started on weekends in January.

The performance starts with an American salute to honor the military, De Haven said.

On opening night, the 158th Battalion of California Cadet Corps from Indio High School presented the colors.

“This is good for my students,” Battalion Lt. Ed Ogimachi said. “All my students are very patriotic and this is to show they are proud of their school.”

Leroy Vesper, 73, stood up and saluted as the U.S. Air Force anthem was played on stage.

Vesper, a winter resident of Palm Desert, said he served in the Air Force for 40 years.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said. “This was wonderful.”

The pageant begins following an introduction by Queen Scheherazade Madi DiPietro, Princess Jasmine Amariz Mendoza, and Princess Dunyazade Stacy Jones.

The Ali Baba tale has been modified from the original to be less violent, De Haven said.

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