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Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Ostrich & Camel Racing 
@ The Riverside County Fair
February 19th, 2012

  First of all, this was a show, in the same way that a broadway play or musical concert would be considered to be a show appropriate of review.  The performing entity is Hedrick's Racing and Promotions, and it had the same fusion of sports and entertainment that characterizes Professional Wrestling or the Harlem Globetrotters.

  I went with friends this weekend- to catch this act at the Riverside County Fair. The Riverside County Fair is held every February at the National Date Festival fairgrounds in Indio, CA.  One question on my mine was the history of the relationship between the National Date Festival and Riverside County Fair, which wikipedia explains as follows:

    The Fair started as a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest in the desert region, the major commercial date-producing area in the western hemisphere. Dates were an unknown commodity in the desert until 1903 when date palms were transplanted there from Algeria. By the early 1920’s enough acreage was planted to make dates a major crop for the area. Date groves in the Coachella Valley were and still are such a novelty that they became quite a tourist attraction. With the popularity of the date gardens the idea was planted for the first Date Festival in 1921 to be held in Indio’s city park. A second Festival was held the following year and then enthusiasm drifted off and the idea of an annual Date Festival died. It wasn’t until 16 years later that the idea came forth again and the third Date Festival was held this time under the name of the Riverside County Fair and the Coachella Valley Date Festival, run by the Indio Civic Club, under contract from the County Board of Supervisors.  (RIVERSIDE COUNTY FAIR WIKIPEDIA)

     Hedricks Promotions Ostrich and Camel racing started at 1 PM- held in this concrete grandstand that looked like it could hold about a thousand people.  The concrete grandstand was one of four venues- a locals stage at the front- a larger themed stage with a bunch of folding chairs opposite the grandstand and a larger stage further in for talent like LeAnn Rimes (3.8 last fm plays)

    The Ostrich/Camel Racing was more Ostrich then Camel, but it was spectacular.  Both my wife and my friends- hard sells all of them- in addition to myself- were enraptured by the combination of patter and novelty animal racing. 

   We were all less cool with the Zebra racing.  I don't think there are any ethical issues with racing Camels, because they are raced in other parts of the world, or with racing Ostrich's because they are dumb ass birds that don't deserve respect, but racing Zebras seems kind of cruel.  In fact, the only issue that interfered with my enjoyment of the spectacle was what you would call "Animal Rights" related concerns.  I honestly question whether we should be allowed to enslave wild animals for our own amusement.  I mean straight up- why is that ok?

  Also enjoyable was watching the crowd- and this goes not just for the Races but the entire Fair experience.  They also had a trained seal show- which made everyone kind of bummed out, and a monkey that would shake your hand for a dollar- which definitely bummed everyone out.

  The fair food was standard- except for a Pink's hot dogs cart- which- I don't know why that isn't more widespread.  Seems like your food truck type establishments could muscle into the food desert that is an American County fair.  Shields Date Farms has a milk shake stand which is literally the only area specific thing about this fair.  The National Date Festival is like a thin overlay on top of the Riverside County Fair, which engulfs it. 

  All told I had a fine old time, and got to avoid all the craziness of Palm Springs Modernism Weekend, which I both appreciate and despise at the same time.

1 comment:

by Mario S. said...

It's not ok. Well at least I don't think it is. "racing Ostrich's because they are dumb ass birds that don't deserve respect" That cracked me up. They are dumb.

It's called actually called Palm Springs Modernism Weekend. That just sounds douchey.

Love the blog!

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