An estimated 200 people turned out yesterday to watch the annual oxcart racing competition in Kompong Speu province to mark the end of the rice harvest season.
Meas Path, one of the organizers of the event, said it was tradition to hold the oxcart races after the rice harvest—which wrapped up at the end of January.
“We do this after every harvest and try to keep it for the younger generation so they can learn about our traditions,” he said, adding that the 30 oxcarts and their intrepid drivers had raced along a 1.5-km track.
There was no clear winner, as the races are just for fun, he said.
Sroy Samreth, 31, who said he takes part in the event every year, said he had been training for about a month ahead of the competition.
“I feel very proud to be one of the racers,” he said, but warned that the race track could be precarious.
“If you don’t train your oxen well, it can be dangerous,” he said.
“After harvesting our rice crops, we trained our oxen for about a month so that they are familiar with the track. If we hadn’t, they could run off the track and the carts could overturn,” he added.
Mok Theum, 66, said the races showed villagers still respected tradition despite modern changes to farming methods.
“We hold the festival to celebrate the end of the harvest and pay our respects to the earth and water spirits,” he said.
“Now, we use machines in harvesting but before, we used cows and buffalos,” he added.