Around the time of the full moon in the 11th lunar month, usually the first weekend in October, farmers from all over the province bring their buffalo to Chonburi City for a festival that dates back centuries.
Costumed dancers move to the music of traditional Thai songs amid flags and banners. General merriment prevails as local beauties vie for the title of “Miss Farm Maiden”. Judges also award prizes to the best decorated buffalo.
The races themselves are preceded by a parade of colorful buffalo-drawn carts through the central part of the provincial capital. Then the contestants are led to the stadium while farmhands run along side and throw buckets of water on them to keep them cool.
The buffalo are fed a mixture of beer and eggs to enhance their performance, and the riders probably consume one of the ingredients to gather their courage for the bareback ride of the rampaging beasts. Crowds whoop and roar and dive for cover as the numerous rounds narrow down the field to four finalists. Finally in the late afternoon the winning buffalo is festooned with garlands and prizes are awarded to the rider.
Clouds of dust rise as these hefty animals pound down the short course at an alarming speed, reminiscent of a stampede. The crowd roars in support of the favorites and the atmosphere is as an enthralling as watching thoroughbred race horses.