The Riverside County Fair and Date Festival will be held Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 26 in Indio.

Although it’s a county fair, it is also a celebration of the Indio area’s history and prominence as a major international producer of dates. As part of that celebration, some of the entertainment is unique to this particular festival. Highlights include the Blessing of the Dates as well as the award-winning Arabian Nights Musical Pageant, “Aladdin and the Heart of Agrabah,” on the main stage. Also popular is the crowning of the fair’s Queen Scheherazade, accompanied by her royal court.

Unique to the fair are daily camel and ostrich races. Not necessarily unique, but no less entertaining, are the pig races. In addition, classes in cooking with dates (not for dates) are offered.

Other main stage entertainment includes tribute shows to Don Henley and the Eagles, Frank Sinatra and the iconic Rat Pack. Headliner LeAnn Rimes appears Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Other rides and festivities common at most other county fairs, such as Motorsports Monster Trucks, a carnival midway, contests, games and food can be found.

The Opening Ceremony and Blessing of the Dates is at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 17. The fair is at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82-503 Highway 111 in Indio. See for more information.

The Town Crier still has 40 free tickets (each worth $8) to the event. Buy a 2012 Town Crier Calendar and receive two tickets to this somewhat unusual fair.