My Weekend at the Southwest Art Festival

When it comes to the art world and the Coachella Valley, there is no better festival to visit then the Southwest Art Festival which takes place in January each year at the height of the California desert's tourist season.

Last year was my first experience with this event and it is truly an art festival that brings people together to share visions, creations, and dreams. Located in Indio, California at the Empire Polo Club site, the Southwest Art Festival runs for three days from the hours of ten in the morning until five in the afternoon.

The weather in the desert is perfect this time of year for an outdoor event and the Empire Polo Club is the perfect setting to take advantage of the warm winter climate that brought a relaxing comfort with the temperature in the mid - 70's.

Once there on the grounds, my eyes saw art from over 200 artists from all around the country.
The festival spotlights not only Southwest Art, but also contemporary art, a variety of jewelry, traditional art, creative sculpture and pottery. My walk over the lawns of the Empire Polo Club allowed me to rub shoulders with the many artists, who rented canopy tents to shelter the art and guests from the desert sun and elements.

I was encouraged to weave through the rows of art and spend a moment to chat with the artists in the laid back environment. I soon learned that a large draw at the festival each year are the featured artists that grace the Polo Grounds. This included such artists as Jane Seymour and Amado M. Pena Jr. who have featured much of their art at the festival. During this great get-together, I also took in a little entertainment, which included such music as new age tunes, Native American flutes and live bands.

Arriving by car, I was somewhat concerned about parking. But my fears were put to rest with abundant parking on Monroe Street at Avenue 51 as well as valet service for just eight ($8.00) dollars. Tickets into the festival are ten ($10.00) dollars per day or twenty ($20.00) dollars for a three-day pass. I highly recommend the three - day pass which is both economical and convenient since each day brings new art pieces to the forefront. Seniors' tickets are eight ($8.00) dollars and children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge.

I suggest bringing comfortable walking shoes since the grounds are vast and the area is crowded with sightseeing visitors. Sunscreen and a hat are also recommended, since while the weather is perfect, you will be out in the sun for most of the day.

The Southwest Arts Festival has been going on for more than 20 years and it contributes a significant portion of the city's tourism revenue. It brings people like myself from all over the country to sample the artwork and tickle each person's creative senses.

According to Sunshine Artists, America's Premier Art and Craft Show Magazine, the Southwest Arts Festival is in the top 100 for "Best Predominately Fine Arts and Design Shows" making the Southwest Art Festival one of the top events in the Coachella Valley and a must stop on your next vacation to Palm Springs and the California desert resort cities.