Going from the metropolitan downtown of the biggest city in Thailand to the equivalent of a rural county fair or small summer farm show is what happened following the opening day’s speaker-filled Thailand Rice Convention.

For me, it was heaven rubbing shoulders with local buyers and sellers of Thailand rice during the Rice Festival and Rice Auction of Nakhonsawan Province, about a three-hour drive from Bangkok. There were even a few pieces of mechanical rice production equipment on display for me to check out.

Most of the festival was like a varied industries display with entrepreneurs and large merchandisers of rice all displaying their goods from raw bagged rice to rice snacks to rice liquor to rice ice cream. Even at a small rural show, the number of products on display that can be made from processing rice in different ways was amazing. Of course, there were a few stands where people could buy food of different types, not all rice related.  

Auctioning of rice is not like a U.S. sale with an auctioneer. In this case, baskets of rice were on display, and buyers threw their sealed bid into a smaller basket next to the rice basket. It was a crazy scramble of people checking out the rice samples and rice being hand graded after the ceremonial banging of the gong opened the auction.

The varieties of rice up for auction varied greatly because there are at least 20 varieties of rice being grown in Thailand, some of them obviously different such as red rice and black rice, and others more subtlety different, often identified more by smell rather than sight.