Straw Bird Festival: A Major Cultural Event in Chai Nat

Known as an important rice bowl of Thailand, Chai Nat province in the central region will organize a Straw Bird Festival to promote local tourism and preserve local culture.

The 10-day event will take place from 3-12 February 2012 at the stadium in front of the Chai Nat Town Hall. One of the highlights will be spectacular processions of gigantic birds fashioned out of rice straw.

Other activities include a Thai Red Cross fair, a bazaar of local products under the “One Tambon, One Product” (OTOP) program, a contest of straw birds, a food fair, and cultural shows.

During the festival, visitors will be invited to visit Chai Nat Bird Park, a major tourist attraction in this province, and other places of interest, such as the Chao Phraya Dam, which is Thailand’s first irrigation dam. In February each year, thousands of birds are seen flying over the Chao Phraya Dam, a view that attracts many birdwatchers.

Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Chai Nat is an ancient city founded in the 12th century. The majority of the population is engaged in rice-farming, so there is plenty of straw to make artificial birds from. The province is rich in water resources and is also famous for a special variety of pomelo, khao taeng kwa.

In 1985 when the Bird Park was under construction as a tourist attraction, farmers in Chai Nat built a huge dummy out of straw in the form of a field rat, as part of activities to join the government’s anti-field rat campaign. The Chai Nat governor at that time came up with the idea of building huge straw birds to publicize Chai Nat Bird Park.

The first straw bird was created jointly by Chai Nat Technical College and the Office of Chai Nat Primary Education. It attracted a large number of people and the innovation was widely recognized. For this reason, the provincial authorities decided to organize the Straw Bird Festival on an annual basis.

The first Straw Bird Festival was held in February 1986, with 130 straw birds on display, and it drew a big gathering of both Thais and foreign visitors. The Tourism Authority of Thailand later invited a straw bird procession to participate in a ceremony to open the Visit Thailand Year 1987 at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Since then, the Straw Bird Festival has become a major festival in Chai Nat. It has not only brought glory to the province, but has also brought in many visitors.

As for Chai Nat Bird Park, it was established in 1983 and has become the largest aviary in Thailand and Asia. Covering an area of 26 rai, or about 10 acres, the bird park is the home for 200 species of birds amidst natural beauty. Inside the Bird Park, there are snake and rabbit farms, gardens, a swimming pool, a man-made waterfall and many figures mainly in the form of animals, especially birds.

This year’s Chai Nat Straw Bird Festival is the 27th of its kind. There will be 12 processions of straw birds, and “hi-tech” straw birds will be displayed throughout the festival.