Farmers ditched their paddy fields for the race course and thousands cheered them on as Chonburi celebrated its 144th buffalo racing festival.
Gov. Khomsan Ekachai opened the festivities Oct. 26 at Chonburi City Hall the day before the end of Buddha Lent, marking the 14th night of the 11th lunar month. Other events also were staged at Yai Intaram Temple where the grounds were completely packed with residents and visitors.
Steeped in history, farmers believe the buffalo racing will benefit the health of their animals and prevent them from contracting diseases.
In addition to the races, which are divided into categories for super small, special small, small, medium and large buffalos, the festival features traditional sports, shows, contests and a display of OTOP products.
A fancy dress buffalo cart parade begins the festivities.
But the buffalos do more than run. They also parade around in fancy dress, trying to earn “beauty contest” prizes for the most beautiful and funniest costumes.
Greased pole climbing is a favorite with the teens as they try to retrieve the money pinned to the top.
There was also a beauty contest for the oldest human female, the “saw lua noy raana” pageant, which attendees though was a hoot as well.
Khomsan said buffalo racing has been registered as a cultural treasure with the Culture Ministry since 2012. It is a major attraction for Chonburi to draw tourists and attendance grows each year.
The highlight of the festival is, of course, the races.