From camel rides and carnival games to fried foods and model trains, there’s something for everyone at the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival happening now through Sunday.

“It’s just a great opportunity for the community to come together and for the date industry to showcase their product,” Janell Percy, executive director of Growing Coachella Valley, said. “I really enjoy everybody stepping up and doing their part and coming together because we all have a common goal and we want everything, you know, we’re here to tell people about our industry, and it’s just nice to bring everybody together.”

Carnival rides were a main attraction for younger fair goers. (Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

From the enticing smell of the many different food vendors throughout the fairgrounds and the delighted screams of children enjoying the carnival rides and games to the many different exhibition halls, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

“It smells like a county fair, which is a good thing, right,” Donna Stern, who is originally from the area, said. “The smoke from the food, the fat and everyone seems pretty happy and involved with what they’re eating.”

One of the big draws for people was the miniature railroad made and maintained by the Coachella Valley Model Railroaders.

Greg Hafner, with the Coachella Valley Model Railroaders, resets his passenger train on the track that goes through the downtown cityscape. (Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

The model railroad features a dizzying array of scenes from a stormy mountain top overlooking all sorts of industry to a drive-in movie theater and brightly lit downtown. If viewers look closely enough at the passenger train zipping by on the tracks, they’ll be able to see the passengers inside.

“This is a cumulative project of 30 years,” Greg Hafner, with the Coachella Valley Model Railroaders, said of the display. “What they’ll do is every year they’ll pick a section and they’ll detail that section more.”

Other indoor exhibits include the gem show, the youth art show and the agriculture hall with this year’s award-winning dates, citrus and other locally grown produce.

Rows of award-winning dates are on display at The Riverside County Fair & Date Festival. (Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

Beyond the fresh produce on display, are dozens of food vendors that line the walkways throughout the fairgrounds selling everything from pizza and barbecue to traditional fair foods like corn dogs, lemonade and funnel cakes.

“I think everybody should come and experience it at least once,” Jeffery Morris, of Indio, said. “And I think a lot of the world doesn’t know, really truly know, how good dates are. So you need to come, at least have a date shake at least one time in your life, that way you know why we come every single year and then they’ll come back the next year.”

The event, held every February at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, was originally a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest and welcomes more than 250,000 visitors each year, according to the event’s website.

This year’s festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 26. Admission tickets and carnival wristbands can be purchased online at a discounted rate.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.