Date 16 - 25 Jan 2010
Saraburi province’s Muak Lek district surprises visitors with its own version of country western culture.
Dairy farming has been associated with the rolling hills of Saraburi since the 50s when pioneering farmers experimented with imported cattle. Today it is an important industry that supplies most of the popular milk products that are sold in supermarkets across the country.
Farms are concentrated mainly northeast of Saraburi town in Muak Lek district all the way to the Pak Chong intersection on Highway 2 heading towards Nakhon Ratchashima.
With the mountains of the famous Khao Yai National Park in the distance, diary meadows nestle between hills on both sides of Highway 2.
Not surprisingly, this undulating country is the home of the National Dairy Cows Festival that runs from 16 to 25 January. All of the celebrations and activities that will interest visitors will take place at the foot of Tapan Hill in Muak Lek district, approximately 39 km northeast of Saraburi, or 145 km from Bangkok.
Festivities begin with a royal visit from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who will graciously open the event which will feature seminars, a fair and concerts.
Visitors are probably most familiar with Chok Chai Farm one of the pioneers of the cowboy culture in Thailand. Today the farm has expanded to offer farm tours with various attractions including a zoo that appeals to families and groups. In the grand tradition of the cowboy the ranch is proud of its rustic timber restaurant serving up tender T-bone steaks.
While individual farms in Saraburi run fine restaurants and adopt a country western themes, come 20 January they unite to host the annual Cowboy Night at the Tapan Hill venue in Muak Lek district.
The event launches with dairy cow contests, but quickly takes on a carnival atmosphere with light hearted rivalry to declare who is sporting the best cowboy or cowgirl costumes.
According to Saraburi province’s tourism office the cowboy festival evolves into an amazing scene as hundreds of “Thai cowboys travel from different parts of the country to enjoy country western music, an exhibition of dairy and beef cow farming, cow contests, whip-cracking, roping and lariat show, and fancy gun handling. The festival venue even uses haystacks instead of tables and chairs.”
Muak Lek district has three resorts, a health spa and a couple of campsites catering to international visitors. The district is best known for its picturesque landscape, vineyards, river rafting, ATV expeditions, hot air ballooning, mountain bike trails and even a farm where children can learn to ride horses. Most of the resorts are in Muak Lek district on the rural road 2089 that winds around 300-metre high hills from the intersection on Highway 2.