Movable Feasts

2016 food, drink, and festival calendar

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The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival runs Feb. 12-21, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
Photo by Gerry Maceda


Have you found your favorite Coachella Valley date? Make your match at the Riverside National Date Festival.

Sip worldly wines and nibble tasty bites from the valley’s best restaurants  at the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival.

Wipe the sauce, if not the satisfied smile, off your face at the barbecue championships. Sample savory and sweet tamales con gusto at the Indio International Tamale Festival. Quaff a few microbrews, furrow your brow, and pretend you’re doing research at numerous craft beer tastings.

Here’s an abbreviated menu from dozens of food-centric events throughout Greater Palm Springs this year.


Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival: Feb. 12-21

Celebrating its 70th year, the 10-day blowout is county fairism at its best. Live entertainment, carnival rides, ostrich races, and dates in all their glory are all on the menu. This food comes in so many forms (fried, spun, dipped), the only feature you recognize is the good taste. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82-503 Highway 111, Indio; 1-800-811-3247 (FAIR).


Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience: March 5

Ever notice how drinking improves your dancing ability? Taste the craft brews and fine wine, then test that theory to the sounds of live rock and blues groups. Top off the tank from a variety of food vendors and trucks. Empire Polo Fields, 81800 Ave. 51, Indio; 760-342-2762.


Palm Desert Food + Wine Festival: April 8-10

The name is Beard. James Beard. We don’t know if he liked martinis shaken or stirred, but we do know the three-day extravaganza begins with a four-course celebrity chef luncheon, chased with two days of grand tastings from 60 premium wineries and 40 restaurants, and 20 demonstrations by chefs you wished lived in your kitchen.


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Local craft brewmasters and top wines headline Brew at the Zoo.


Brew at the Zoo: April 2

Drink a beer, save a bear. The Living Desert wants you to multitask for the greater good with tastings from local craft brewmasters and the best vintners. There’s also good food for all the folks who are willing to do good. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Living Desert. 47900 Portola Drive, Palm Desert; 760-346-5694.


Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week: June 3-12

Ten days, 100 restaurants — you do the math. If you can’t manage to sample them all, try harder. At least try something you’ve never tried before from the diverse and signature dishes on offer from some of the valley’s best restaurants. Three-course meals run $26 or $38; 760-322-8008.


Que & Brew, BBQ Competition and Craft Beer Festival: October

Odds are that this family-friendly festival will sate your appetite and quench your thirst, but we wonder if Vegas makes book on the 20 teams going head-to-head in the “Best BBQ” competition. The brew crew is drawn from dozens of local and national craft and microbrews for sampling or purchase. Admission is free. Spotlight 29 Casino; 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566.


Photo by Neil Husvar

The best in the state vie for top honors in barbecue.


Indio California State BBQ Championship & Festival: November

This is the pits. And we mean that in a good way. Some of the state’s best pitmasters compete for prizes in the barbecue contest, which is sanctioned — did you even know that was a thing? The festival’s part of the deal is live music,  classic car show, games, train rides, craft beers, and kids’ stuff. Admission is free. Indio Golf Course; 83040 Ave. 42, Indio; 760-347-0676.


Props & Hops Craft Beer Festival: November

Adults only (bring ID) at this flight of fancy during which you taste beer, munch food, and listen to live music amid vintage aircraft décor. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs; 760-482-1839.


Photo by Neil Husvar

The Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs welcomes top brewmasters.


Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend at Ace Hotel: November

Bitter, sweet, spicy, fruity, complex, assertive … we had an old flame like that. Those traits work better in beer. Celebrate the microbrewers, hop heads, cask masters, and maltsters doing their best to help us endure the drought at this weekend event. Buy a mug, hoist a pint, and stand by (we hope) for the poolside appetizers. Ace Hotel; 701 E. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900.


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Coachella Valley Beer Week: November

We like to print the words “pub crawl,” and finally there’s a reason to do it. The 10 days of Coachella Valley Beer Week (they’re messing with the space-time continuum) attract what organizers call “beer tourism,” meaning anything related to local breweries and the people that love them. Tastings (food and drink), beer and cigar pairings, meet-the-brewer  opportunities, and the progressive beer crawl along the Palm Springs strip. Wrap it up at the Props & Hops Craft Beer Festival at the Palm Springs Air Museum.


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Indio International Tamale Festival: Dec. 3-4

Too many tamales! Has anyone ever said that? Nah. Here’s one place they never run out, and they cover the mealtime spectrum from spicy hot to sweetly dessertful. One bite, and you’ll understand the festival’s status as the premier destination for indulging in this Mesoamerican staple. Old Town, Indio; 760-832-8620, ext. 43.

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