The historic buffalo race has been held for many years and probably has its origins in 1870 when two owners of buffalo disagreed on who had the fastest animal. It appears they had a long argument but in the end to came to the logical conclusion that a race would settle the dispute. Who won the race has been lost in the passages of time and whether it is a true story… who knows? But it could have happened.
Strangely enough, the buffalo jockey sits, without a saddle, on the very end of the back of the animal. To urge the buffalo on, the jockeys yell and hit the animal with a stick. However, this only works if the animal is inclined to cooperate. Rumors have it that buffalo riders give a bottle of Mekong whiskey to the animals. An entire bottle of Mekong whiskey. Alas, it is just a rumor…!! But it's a widely circulating tale. Imagine … a buffalo …… and whiskey ?????
On the race day at starting gate we noticed that not all the buffalo were ready to perform. The effort to get all the animals into the starting gates at the same time is a contest in itself. Some animals, without warning, without a starting shot, and even without a rider, took off and ran around the track. This to great amusement of the thousands of gathered spectators. Other buffalo didn't even consider for one moment to participate in this pointless event, they stubbornly resisted all attempt to get them to move. Photographers, always in the front lines of these kinds of event, were risking their lives. Several buffalo, clearly having a mind of their own, ran first in the direction of the public, then to the exit and then to the photographers.
Despite the chaos, lots of pleasant bustle and gaiety. Deliciously smelling soup kitchens and various pots and pans with simple dishes to please the taste buds. Classical dance, Thai boxing, and the entertaining ball game Takraw are some of the ingredients amusing the public. The county fair attracts people with nostalgic displays, lots of market stalls, and a parade with historic vehicles.
While most people clearly enjoyed the day out, the same could not be said about the buffalo. After a few turbulent and especially hot days, they are again on the back of a pickup truck, some of which are richly decorated with champion rosettes, colorful blankets flowers and colorful decorations. But you can almost see the animals think: I just wanna go home!!
The consolation for the buffalo in many parts of the country is that the heavy work they used to do has been taken over by tractors. However, you can still find that old image in remote areas, where the buffalo peacefully plows the field or rolls in a big pool of mud.