Every February we would drive out to the desert to go to the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival. The Date Festival, which began in 1947, was still fairly small in the early 1950s. The fair and festival was a celebration of the desert and especially the dates grown in the Coachella Valley. The fairgrounds had an Arabian theme, with onion domed buildings and decorations. There were ostrich and camel races, and my Grandfather Bill made sure we all got to see the camels up close and personal. Bill was very amused when a camel spit in our direction. I had to duck to keep from being hit with camel spit. I wasn't impressed with camels.
There was a Queen and Princesses of every festival and every evening there was a dramatic presentation of The Arabian Nights. It was common for the weather to be quite warm during the day and then the temperature would cool by twenty or thirty degrees. If one was not prepared, it could be quite cold. The first time we stayed to see The Arabian Nights presentation the weather dropped dramatically and we all were freezing because we had dressed for the warm daytime weather.
My Grandmother Cora was very involved in the festival and had an purple Arabian outfit, similar to the outfit worn by Jeanie in I Dream of Jeanie. Many women would dress in these outfits, and the Date Queen and her Princesses always wore the outfits too. I thought they all looked so beautiful and exotic. I wanted one of those outfits too.
The Date Festival still is held every February, and it has grown into a huge event with thousands of people visiting every day and some of the best foods you've ever tasted.