Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Anything Goes" Saturday - Indio Date Festival, 1960

Welcome to the Indio Date Festival! "What the hell is that?", you ask. Indio is located in Riverside County, about 125 miles east of Los Angeles. It's not too far (26 miles) from Palm Springs, and because of its desert climate, palm trees (imported from Algeria) bearing dates became a major crop. Today around 35 million pounds of dates are produced annually! That's a lot of fiber.

The Date Festival was hatched in 1947; it is considered part of the Riverside County Fair, and you can find all of the things you might expect to find at a big county fair. Rodeos, musical acts, monster truck rallies, parades, various booths and exhibits, and carnival food and attractions. And clowns! Check out Bobo the clown, resplendent in Wonder-bread polka dots. He is clearly a master of balloon arts! The cute little girl (named Corinne, according to the slide's label) is showing off her charming inflatable chapeau (held on by static electricity?), while other kids look on with envy (and maybe a little sloth).

Here's Corinne again, with a fez (the king of hats!). She's posing next to a camel (one hump means it's an Arabian dromedary). Don't let him spit at you, kid. My understanding is that the fanciful "Arabian" theme has been downplayed (if not completely eliminated) since 9/11.


TokyoMagic! said...

Bobo scares me and I don't think I'll be able to eat Wonder Bread ever again. But now I want to go to Shields Date Garden in Indio (since 1924!) for a date shake and a bag of the world's best grapefruit.

Orange Co Native said...

Hello Major,

I found a nice piece of film of Disneyland from 1957 on You tube. It looks like it was filmed in either 16mm or 35mm. Whoever was using the camera knew how to pan and film. So it doesn't look like the usual jerky and shaky films of most tourists. Vivid colors, rich and it shows Disneyland in 1957.

On You Tube

You can google it by " Disneyland Canon 1957."

Major Pepperidge said...

Don't be a-scared of Bobo, TM! He is too old to hurt anyone now. "World's best grapefruit", bleah... I don't like grapefruit.

OC Native, I've seen that video, it's pretty remarkable. It's hard to believe that it is amateur footage, it's so clear and colorful. According to the folks who posted the video, it has been featured on BoingBoing and the Huffington Post, and has had well over 100,000 views in just a few days.

Gojira said...

The clown is disturbing. All this talk of California produce has me hankering for some Graber Olives!

Irene said...

Yes - a date shake was a must have (and still is) out in that area. Another fun thing about the Date Festival in Indio was the Ostrich and Camel races which they still do! Also they have a court with Queen Scheherazade and Princess Jasmine and Princess Dunyazade (no clue who that princess is). This year's Date Festival is coming up shortly - next weekend, Feb. 17 - 26.

TokyoMagic! said...

My grandparents used to take us to Shields for date shakes. It was a classic little roadside stop along the highway. They still play a vintage 50's educational film in their theater titled "The Romance and Sex Life of a Date". They used to have huge signs outside advertising the film. I wonder if that got people to pull their cars over and go in?

I'm not a huge fan of grapefruit either, Major, but these grapefruit were so sweet, you could just peel them and eat them like an orange without adding any sugar.

Major Pepperidge said...

Gojira, what the heck is a Graber olive? I only like olives on pizza!

Irene, do you know if they still do the Scheherazade thing? I'm glad if they brought it back.

TM!, that film sounds erotic, ha ha! Date shakes, those must be good. As for the grapefruit, I've tried varieties that people swear are extra sweet, but they still taste like battery acid to me.

bloefeld said...

BoBo scares the bujeezus out me. Although he is adhering strictly to the rules of clown-touching. Right hand firmly on right shoulder with only two fingers of the left hand on the left shoulder. This would indicate that he was a fully licensed, state regulated clown, although he was most likely paid in five cent cigars and
bathtub gin, which was very common at the time.

Gojira said...

Major when you get near Ontario, CA you can stop right in:

Nancy said...

that is one scary clown.....sounds like a pretty cool place. add it to the list of things i never got to see :(

SundayNight said...

At one time grapefruit was a real treat for the folks back east. Remember Mission Packs? Also, have you ever noticed in films from the 30s and 40s that whenever wealthy people are having breakfast they always start with a grapefruit half in a large “grapefruit glass”?

I haven’t had a date shake in 35 years. But I remember it was very tasty.

Major Pepperidge said...

bloefeld, I'm glad to learn the rules of clown touching!

Gojira, are they worth the drive??

Nancy, he's not so scary; and you can still see the Date Festival if you go out to Indio in February!

SundayNight, I remember a book in which a midwestern couple received some grapefruit from their relatives in California. Not knowing what to do with them, they baked them with butter, kind of like a potato!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, it's probably been 15-20 years since I've seen that film, but from what I remember it was about cross-pollination of the date trees. The roadside signs advertising the "free" movie were obviously meant to pique people's curiosity so they would stop and go inside and then hopefully buy something.

Irene said...

Major, yes they are doing the Scheherazade thing. If you Google Indio Date Festival their main web site should come out first and it's all listed there.

JG said...

Major, I have some pictures from a long long ago trip to the Indio Date festival, I remember that date movie and the date shakes.

Thanks to you and all in the thread for reviving that brain cell!