The jockey rides bareback astride the water buffalo's rump, slaps him with a switch and bumps along on his sprinting steed down a 130-meter (427-foot) strip. That's if the buffalo cooperates. All the while, a joking announcer excitedly narrates the spectacle, poking fun at the lads who can't stay aboard their hurtling beasts.

Thousands of people Sunday flock to this entertainment in downtown Chonburi, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Bangkok, at the annual water buffalo festival. The day's events, which also includes a buffalo beauty pageant, a Miss Farmer beauty contest and a comic buffalo costume contest.