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Coachella 2012: How about a date?

April 14, 2012 |  6:01 pm

Medjool dates

Beyond music festivals, tennis tournaments and golf championships, the desert region is known to attract a few tourists for its dates. That’s dates as in the fruit crop, in case anyone reading this was suddenly thinking of a trip to the Coachella Valley for its singles scene.

A popular roadside attraction in the region is Indio’s Shields Date Garden, known for its milkshakes as well as its own short film, “Romance and Sex Life of the Date.” But although the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has called Indio home for 13 years now, never before has Shields actually been serving its shakes on site.

It seems an obvious fit: Desert heat + date shake = happiness.  

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

Yet the staff at the Shields Date Garden booth at Coachella were forcing smiles early Saturday. Rain and wind brought on-site temperatures down near 50 degrees Friday, and although the sun is shining Saturday, forecasters predict an equally chilly night.

So yes, Indio’s beloved date has made it to Coachella, and it is being ignored.

John Ortiz, who works wholesale for Shields and was manning the booth, was asked how business was going -- even though the lack of concertgoers nearby made the answer obvious.

“Honestly, not too good,” Ortiz said. “We were hoping to sell a lot more. People were seeking warmer items. We didn’t make any money yesterday. I don’t see us making any money today.”

If only Shields had a coffee machine. Desert Coffee Trading Co. has been coming to Coachella for five years, down from Santa Barbara, and general manager Matt Miller said the outfit had its best night ever Friday.

“We’re hoping to trump it tonight,” he said, adding that if it gets warm, he’s also covered: He has smoothies.

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 -- Todd Martens

Photo: Medjool dates, a specialty of the Coachella Valley, shown here in 2009. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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