Indio in the Coachella Valley

Saturday, 30 April 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Events
Reading Time:  12 minutes

Coachella 2018 © flickr.com - Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0

Coachella 2018 © flickr.com – Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0

Indio (Spanish for “Indian”) is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, in the Coachella Valley of Southern California‘s Colorado Desert region. It lies 23 miles (37 km) east of Palm Springs, 75 miles (121 km) east of Riverside, 127 miles (204 km) east of Los Angeles, 148 miles (238 km) northeast of San Diego, and 250 miles (402 km) west of Phoenix. The population was 89,137 in the 2020 United States Census, up from 76,036 at the 2010 census, an increase of 17%. Indio is the most populous city in the Coachella Valley, and was formerly referred to as the Hub of the Valley after a Chamber of Commerce slogan used in the 1970s. It was later nicknamed the City of Festivals, a reference to the numerous cultural events held in the city, most notably the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Because of the numerous festivals and special events held annually in Indio, the Chamber of Commerce deemed Indio’s official nickname to be “The City of Festivals”. Indio is considered the second County seat, the Riverside County Fairgrounds is a facility that hosts various events year round such as music concerts, 4×4 monster truck rallies, rodeos, and other special events.

Two major annual festivals are the Indio International Tamale Festival and Thrillville since 2022, formerly the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival is held each February at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, located on Highway 111 in the heart of Indio. Since 1947, this festival has celebrated the date fruit crop of the Coachella Valley. The Tamale Festival is held each December on the streets of Old Town Indio and holds one Guinness World Record as the largest tamale festival (120,000 in attendance, Dec. 2–3, 2000) and once held the record for the world’s largest tamale, [over 1 foot (0.3 m) in diameter and 40 feet (12.2 m) in length], created by Chef John Sedlar, but that record has since been surpassed.

In 1993, Paul Tollett, president of Goldenvoice, booked a Pearl Jam concert at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, and six years later, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was born. Since 2001, Coachella has been an annual event that has brought notable music acts to the desert, including: AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses, Prince, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Radiohead, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Pixies, The Cure, The White Stripes, Jay-Z, Tool, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction, Roger Waters and several others. Coachella extended the festival to three days in 2007. Organizers eliminated single-day tickets in 2010 and went to three-day passes only. The festival continues to draw large numbers of concertgoers to Indio and the Empire Polo Club, a venue that Rolling Stone said possessed a “lush beauty… that made the desert seem very far away.”

In May 2007, Goldenvoice, promoters of Coachella, started Stagecoach, a three-day country music festival held the weekend following the Coachella. Performers have included George Strait, Kenny Chesney, the Eagles, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Kid Rock.

In 2013, OC Weeklys Dave Barton described the arts scene in Indio with “seems to consist of Johnny Cash tributes, chalk art, camel and ostrich races, and Neil Simon revivals.”

On April 15, 2016, it was reported that Goldenvoice was trying to bring together The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, and Neil Young for a 3-day mega concert known as Desert Trip. Desert Trip went on to take place at the same venue as the Coachella Music Festival, and happened over two three-day weekends, on October 7–9 and 14–16. Despite becoming the highest-grossing music festival in history, Goldenvoice founder Paul Tollett has not announced any plans for a second Desert Trip, stating that it’s not necessary for it to “turn into another franchise festival”.

Indio is also the site of many other annual arts, culture, and entertainment festivals and events. Among these include:

  • The Southwest Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club
  • The Cabazon Indian National Pow wow at Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino
  • The Palm Springs Kennel Club’s Annual Dog Show and Rhythm at the Empire Polo Club
  • The Heritage/Living History Festival at the Coachella Valley History Museum
  • The Family Motor Coach Association‘s Annual Western Region RV Rally at the Riverside County Fairgrounds
  • The Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival at the Empire Polo Club
  • Arbor Day Celebration
  • Indio Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Dia de Los Muertos Celebration at the Coachella Valley History Museum
  • Taste of Indio at Jackalope Ranch
  • The California BBQ State Championship & Festival

Bob Dylan at Desert Trip festival 2016 flickr.com - Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0 Coachella 2018 © flickr.com - Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0 Coachella 2018 © flickr.com - Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0 Coachella 2018 © flickr.com - Raph_PH/cc-by-2.0 Sunset at Desert Trip festival © Aparkswv/cc-by-sa-4.0 Magic Carpet Stage at Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival 2012 © Amin Eshaiker/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Magic Carpet Stage at Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival 2012 © Amin Eshaiker/cc-by-sa-3.0
The Coachella Valley History Museum Home, on Miles Avenue, has a two-acre campus, which currently includes the Smiley-Tyler House, built in 1926, the 1909 Schoolhouse, and the Date Museum dedicated to the history and development of the fruit (the only date museum in the world), plus gardens and archives preserving historical artifacts of the Coachella Valley. It also has the historic M.H. Whittier Ranch Tower, which is used for the only light art projection system in the Coachella Valley.

The Indio Performing Arts Center, known as IPAC, is located at the heart of downtown Indio at 45–175 Fargo Street to promote arts and entertainment for the community. IPAC has hosted live concerts, theater productions, dinner theater events and sing-alongs, movie nights, fashion shows, arts and crafts fairs, music video productions, and other special events. IPAC is a 23,000 sq. ft. facility with a main hall, the Expo Hall; three separate theaters that are approximately 2,200 sq. ft. each: Village Theatre, Cabaret Theatre, and the Old Towne Playhouse. Desert TheatreWorks occupies the facility, which has produced more than 50 plays and musicals, 8 children’s musicals and more than 20 special events, making them one of the Coachella Valley’s leading producers of theatre and educational programming for the performing arts. The College of the Desert also has a film class in the Village Theatre during the school year.

The Coachella Valley Art Center is located at 45140 Towne Street in downtown Indio. It hosts a variety of art exhibits, workshops, and special events throughout the year and includes a main gallery, project spaces, classrooms, a glass studio, performance space, and artist studios. The center has hosted local and international artists, and been a venue for art events and live performances.

From January to March each year, polo season is in full effect at the Eldorado Polo Club and the Empire Polo Club. Tailgating, food vendors, picnics, and great polo games are a common sight at these family-friendly Sunday events.

Golfing is another main attraction that brings people from far and wide to Indio and surrounding cities, with the Coachella Valley housing approximately 28 percent of all California’s golf courses. Golf course development in the desert became a huge phenomenon in the 1950s, with a golf course opening approximately every 100 days. During the winter months, country clubs with golf courses attract dozens of vacationers each year. Today, there are more than 13 golf courses located in Indio and 124 golf courses in the entire Coachella Valley. The City of Indio, in particular, owns the only night-lighted golf course in the Coachella Valley – the Lights at Indio Golf Course.

Casinos are also a point of interest in Indio that draw a large crowd. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, whose tribal headquarters are also located in Indio. The casino opened in 2004 and includes a hotel, bowling center, golf course, and special events center that acts as a concert venue. The Fantasy Springs special events center has hosted musicians as big as The Beach Boys, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Nicks, and Kelly Clarkson.

In the fall of 1996, the Indio Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to develop a Historic Mural Project to help revitalize the local economy at the time of the statewide economic recession. Several communities have benefited from similar programs, such as Chemainus, Canada; El Paso, Texas; and Eureka, Bishop, Needles, & 29 Palms in California, as well the famous Chicano Park mural to commemorate Hispanic-American life in Barrio Logan, San Diego in the late 1970s. It began with a suggestion to start a mural project first brought to the city by David Hernandez, a former Indio city council member, after he visited Chemainus. Very little happened with this concept until 1996, when the Riverside County National Date Festival’s executive director Bruce Latta and commissioned artist Bill Weber of San Francisco to paint a mural of the Taj Mahal on the Taj Mahal (Garden of Allah) building at the fairgrounds. At the same time, local businessman Bruce Clark, who was instrumental in promoting Historic U.S. Route 99 (Indio Blvd.) to its former status as the Main Street of California. He maintains a website on Historic Route 99. He brought the mural idea forward again after seeing the success of a similar local program in 29 Palms. When Clark presented the idea to the chamber board of directors, the idea was immediately recognized as something that could help the city’s economy by encouraging tourism. Indio now has ten murals about the city on the sides of various buildings in Old Town and on a water reservoir tank on Monroe Street.

Read more on City of Indio, visitgreaterpalmsprings.com – Indio, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Los Angeles Times, 15 April 2023: The best fashion at Coachella 2023, El Pais, 15 April 2023: Bad Bunny closes ‘epic night’ at Coachella festival with a historic performance, Los Angeles Times, 16 April 2023: Frank Ocean finally emerges after hourlong delay on Day 3 at Coachella 2023, Los Angeles Times, 18 April 2023: I ate the best food at Coachella. Here’s what to eat if you’re going to weekend 2, Desert Trip, Empire Polo Club, Coachella Valley History Museum, Wikivoyage Indio and Wikipedia Indio (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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