You can see the rest of the (really adorable) set of pics here. You're welcome.
And now, my opinion:
In the Coachella Valley, two things are flourishing in noticable abundance: old people and palm trees. The old people are responsible for the terrible traffic on the main roads, and the palm trees? They're responsible for dates. The first Date Palm trees planted in the United States were planted here in the Coachella Valley in 1903, and I think the guy that brought them over from Algeria cut me off on Cook St. earlier today. The Coachella Valley continues to be the leading producer of dates in the US, contibuting over 30 million pounds of the wrinkley berries each year. In 1921, The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival began as a celebration of date harvesting.
Did you know that the date has more potassium than a banana? They are low in fat and sodium, and high in fiber, iron, and magnesium... but none of that really matters, because the best way to eat them is in a date shake.
If a date shake really isn't your thang, I don't blame you. Lemme tell you what- it takes a lot more than a glorified raisin to get me out of the house, even if there is some ice cream involved. The real reason to go to the Date Festival is for the rest of the food.
My favorite food group is Fried, which makes any type of county fair like my birthday and Christmas rolled together, wrapped in winning lottery tickets, and deep fried with a side of ranch. You can't walk more than ten steps in any direction without being within smelling-range of some sort of food vendor. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, BBQ, Greek, Indian, American... everyone is representing in full force. The choices are so overwhelming that I actually envied the cows in the Livestock Stables- what I wouldn't give for four stomachs at a time like that! I settled on pizza, a bbq chicken sandwich, funnel cake, a churro, cotton candy, a date shake, and a deep-fried Snickers bar. I almost feel guilty about all the food stuffs I neglected.
Between meals, there's a plethora to do to take your mind off of how much weight you're going to gain in one day. There are plenty of booths scattered around the fairground selling (you guessed it) dates and other locally-grown snacks, as well as merchants who will airbrush custom t-shirts, paint your name on a grain of rice, or sell you something you had no idea you needed... and will probably break in 72 hours anyway. There's an art exhibition showcasing local schools' award-winning artists, a petting zoo, a livestock area, and ostirich and camel races. I will state, for the record, that there are few things in life I enjoy more than watching grown-ass men fall off large birds... but from a distance- ostriches really freak me the heck out.
And speaking of camels... it's a bit of a touchy subject with me. I went to the fair really, really, really wanting to ride a camel. Did I get to ride a camel? Nooooooo siree. Apparently my bump and the camel's bump aren't a winning combo. Isn't that a little hypocritical? I can understand dissueding a pregnant woman from riding the Bumper Cars or the Ring Of Fire, but a camel ride seems kinda tame to me. I mean, they let me ride the parking lot shuttle, and that went way faster than the effing camel did. Oh well, just another little piece of ammo I'm going to use against this baby when he/she is a teenager and wants a later curfew. "Past midnight? I don't think so. I couldn't ride the camel, your ass better be home by 12."
Chris and the kids got to ride the camel, and I sat on the sidelines, photographing the fun while I muttered under my breath. For that reason, I started referring to the festival as the (un)Fair. It's ok, though, because there's a lot of things I get to go through as a pregnant woman that they don't. Like morning sickness! And Childbirth. Ooooh, I bet they're so jealous of that! I'll be right back after I count my lucky stars.
I'm back. I got to three. They were: 1) I can use "I'm Pregnant!" as an excuse not to do anything, and they can't. 2.) I can pig out and claim that I'm eating for two. 3.) I can win almost any argument by saying "You're outnumbered! It's two against one!"
Anyway, back on track here... so yes, The Date Festival! Fun times! I managed to leave out the parts about it being totally ghetto, because Funnel Cake covers a multitude of sins. I'm definitely planning on going next year, if not to try the Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich that I whimped out on getting, then just for the camel ride. And I'm gonna make everyone sit on the side and just watch me.