INTRODUCTION: In Thailand, the buffalo fair of Chonburi Province is an annual event that has taken place for more than a hundred years.
CHONBURI PROVINCE, THAILAND (VISNEWS - GARY BURNS)
TV PAN People and buffaloes assembled in streets
SV Man with placard seated on decorated buffalo
CU PULL BACK TO SV Man wearing tank costume seated on buffalo
Sv Man dressed as woman seated on buffalo with zebra stripes
CU PAN Man dressed as tortoise seated on buffalo, with children watching. (2 SHOTS)
CU Decorated buffaloes in procession through streets with people watching. (4 SHOTS)
TRAVELLING SHOT Buffaloes and riders galloping through streets
TGV Finish of race, jockey falling off twice, remounting to win
Background: INTRODUCTION: In Thailand, the buffalo fair of Chonburi Province is an annual event that has taken place for more than a hundred years. Farmers converge on Chonburi after ploughing and sowing in hope of a fine crop to come.
SYNOPSIS: The farmers regard the buffalo fair as a celebration after both man and beast have finished their work on the paddy fields. The men wear fancy dress, with prizes awarded for the best.
The festival marks the end of the buddhist Lent, and supposedly the rainy season, although this year the rain continued throughout the fair. For farmers, this is a time to show respect to their buffaloes and the way they have toiled all year round. Owners hold a traditional competition to find the healthiest, handsomest and fastest animal. The farmers believe that if the ceremony is not held at least once a year, sickness will befall the buffalo, which are the backbone of agriculture in south-east Asia.
Streets were thronged with people intent on enjoying the spectacle and presence of danger in the buffalo races. These were exciting, though neither riders nor mounts offered any semblance of charm and grace.
The winning jockey fell of his mount twice, but overcome these worries with aplomb. His buffalo had blocked others, preventing them from capitalizing on the leader's temporary setbacks. The races were held over 100 metres, and prizes were plastic buckets and sarongs. The festival is a highlight in the social calendar of the buffaloes, who are usually wallowing in mud. They are painted and bedecked with flowers and ridden to the municipal centre by their owners.
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