Since the turn of the 20th century, Southern California’s Coachella Valley has embraced a unique crop: the date. As success with the fruit grew, so too did regional celebrations of it. Beginning in 1921, the City of Indio hosted a Festival of Dates, an event that became the annual National Date Festival in 1947. The area linked itself to the date’s birthplace, the Greater Middle East, in multiple ways, but the festival drew national attention to Indio’s use of these Arabian fantasies. Attendees celebrated the fair’s camel races, Arabian Nights musical pageant, Middle Eastern architecture, Queen Scheherazade pageant, and the costumes worn by boosters and visitors alike. While the United States’ political and pop-cultural relationship to the region changed over time, the Eastern Coachella Valley continued to embrace fantasies of the Middle East at its fair.
Such a rich history allows author Sarah Seekatz to share stunning images of the fair in Images of America: Indio’s Date Festival. The collection of photographs will bring to light images not seen by the public in decades. The book will share the rich history of the Date Festival and its “Arabian” fantasies.
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