Chonburi’s annual Buffalo Racing Festival is one of most exciting events normally held at the end of Buddhist Lent, or Ok Phansa, with a tradition that dates back over 140 years.
This Buffalo Racing Festival celebrates the exalted status buffalos enjoy as the uniquely Thai icon of Thailand’s agriculture and rural way of life. It gives local people the chance to come together and enjoy fun and good food. As usual, the event is expected to attract large crowds of tourists looking to see something uniquely Thai.
However, with the increased mechanisation of Thai agriculture there is less work for buffalos in the fields. The Buffalo Racing Festival ensures these animals get sustained exercise now missing from their daily life. The buffalos race in three classes based on size, as trainers lovingly place their steeds on strict training and diet regimes in the months leading up to the competition.
Thai buffalos are often stereotyped as slow lumbering beasts; however, many visitors are surprised how fast they can run. It takes a very agile (and light) jockey to hang on for dear life and guide their beloved beasts along an often muddy 100-metre track to victory.
Other quirky highlights at the Buffalo Racing Festival include a ‘Ms Buffalo’ beauty pageant for the most attractive and ‘best dressed’, which lends to a carnival-like atmosphere of rides, concerts and food-a-plenty.
*Featured image: a TAT Newsroom Contest 2014 entry by Manoon Pongpanpath