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Rice festival in Laos attracts record crowd

Updated:2018-01-10 13:44:41   vientianetimes.org.la

Over 1,000 people from Laos and other countries gathered in Phieng district, Xayaboury province of Laos yesterday for the start of the colourful Great Rice Stack Festival (Boun Kong Khao Yai).

This is the eighth edition of the festival, which celebrates the district’s longstanding rice-growing tradition.

The opening ceremony was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone, Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Ounthuang Khaophanh, and the Governor of Xayaboury province Mr Phongsavanh Sitthavong.

Speaking at the event, Phieng district Governor Mr Somvang Keovilaysack said “Phieng district has a strong affinity with rice farming and most people here are farmers.”

“We fully support farmers’ efforts in the cultivation of rice and sweetcorn. In 2017 the people of this district produced an average of 640kg of rice per person. There are eight ethnic groups living here, notably the Tong Leuang,” he said.

“This festival is very significant for people in this district because we have a huge area of rice under cultivation. The festival takes place every year after the harvest. We want to do all we can to encourage farmers to grow more rice for sale to other provinces,” Mr Somvang said.

“Our district is also developing infrastructure and improving tourist attractions. We have plenty of interest for tourists such as temples and some wonderful scenery,” he added.

This year’s festival was organised with Visit Laos Year 2018 in mind, and the various exhibits will be on display from January 8-12.

The festival informs visitors about the area’s culture and lifestyle and its long association with rice farming. Phieng district is well known for the high quality of its rice.

Included in the programme this year are a Miss Kong Khao Yai (Miss Rice) contest, a singing contest, dances, and a night market. The market has over 100 stalls selling agricultural produce, handicrafts and locally made One District, One Product items.

Xayaboury province will officially launch Visit Laos Year 2018 during the annual Elephant Festival which will take place from February 16-22 in Xayaboury district. This year 69 elephants will take part in events such as a grand parade, a baci ceremony, and a beauty contest.

Other highlights throughout the year include the Boun Khao Chi Yai festival (celebrating a special rice-based snack) in Botaen district, also in February.

Xayaboury province is situated in the northwest of Laos, sharing borders with Vientiane province and Luang Prabang province in the east, and Thailand in the west. The distance from Vientiane to Phieng district is about 200km.

Editor: John Li

Keywords:   Rice festival