Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival has a reported annual economic impact of $36 million to the local economy
RIVERSIDE COUNTY —The Riverside County budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes $500,000 to bring back and start planning the 2022 Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival, one of the region’s longest-running traditions. It was canceled for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The fair’s venue, the 120-acre Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, canceled all scheduled events since mid-March. At one point, the fairgrounds were set up for use as a field hospital as well as a COVID-19 testing site.
The cancellation is more than a loss of fair food, thrill rides, and entertainment. It’s a loss of revenue and jobs.
The festival has a reported annual economic impact of $36 million to the local economy, according to a county spokesperson. It hires 100 seasonal employees and books 200 vendors and 65 food concessions.
More than 253,000 guests visited the 2020 festival. Attendance can be as high as 300,000 during winters with good weather.
The event annually brings a week and a half of midway rides, farm animals, greasy and sticky fair foods, monster trucks, pop and country stars, Norteño groups and other regional Mexican music acts and other live entertainment to downtown Indio. It has retained some of the Arabian Nights theme it had in its early years, when it was launched to promote the Coachella Valley’s date crop. Its signature beverage is the date milkshake.
The first festival took place in 1921, but it hasn’t happened every year. The event moved to its current site on Highway 111, now called the Riverside County Fairgrounds, in 1940, but World War II shut down the event in 1942.
The most recent fair was called the 74th annual Date Festival. It ran Feb. 14-23, 2020 and closed two weeks before the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival announced it would postpone its 2020 dates as California began to assess the potential impact of the pandemic.
The Fair & Date Festival wasn’t the only item on Perez’s budget wish list, He also requested money to keep the Blythe animal shelter open, $1 million for mobile home relocation and funding for key investments into homelessness, behavioral health and fire service.
The Riverside County budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 was approved Tuesday, on the second day of budget hearings.
“This is a budget that shows our commitment to our values and makes real investments in our future and will have a real return for our residents and communities,” Supervisor Perez said in a prepared statement. “Funding in the budget will help us address the most critical needs in the Fourth District and the County of Riverside, including homelessness and housing, and I am especially proud this will help residents in dilapidated mobile home parks that lack infrastructure and clean drinking water and keep the animal shelter in Blythe open. I was very happy to gain the support of my colleagues and county staff and thank them for their support of these crucial needs in the Fourth District and the County of Riverside.”
The county budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 sets funding for county government operations over the next year, with funding for public safety, social services, public works projects, community services and health care. These county programs and services keep communities safe, support families and improve the quality of life for residents.
Supervisor Perez says he was successful in advocating for his colleagues to support additional funding for the following needs:
- $360,000 to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services to keep the Blythe Animal Shelter open for the next fiscal year;
- $1 million to develop a program with the county housing department to relocate residents from dilapidated mobile home parks in the eastern Coachella Valley into safer living conditions;
- $3.5 million for an integrated data system to address homelessness and social services;
- $1 million for the Behavioral Health Recovery Village;
- $2.5 million to increase the surge capacity of the fire department;
- $5.5 million for deputy patrol in the unincorporated communities.
This year, $5 million was set aside for the county’s Unincorporated Communities Initiative to prioritize projects in the county’s unincorporated communities. The mobile home program will be funded as an allocation from the Unincorporated Communities Initiative.
The County budget includes $6.9 billion in spending, up from $6.5 billion this fiscal year.
The board is expected to vote on formal adoption of the budget during its June 29 meeting. The board must pass a new budget by June 30.
The budget can be found by clicking here.
- Supervisor V. Manuel Perez: Supervisor V. Manuel Perez
- Riverside County Fair and Date Festival: Riverside County Fair and Date Festival Facebook page