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Annual Yak festival hoped to boost tourism

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(27 Jul 2017) LEAD INA race, a rodeo and even a beauty pageant - Mongolia's annual yak festival has taken place in the Orkhon Valley.The festival is becoming increasingly popular and it's hoped it will provide a significant boost to tourism.STORY-LINEA herd of hairy beasts are rounded up in the sunshine on the Mongolian steppe.These are yaks, and they're celebrated every year at the Mongolian Yak Festival.Around 300 yaks are attending the event in the Orkhon Valley of Bat-Ulzii this year. They've arrived from multiple provinces for a day of action, including a rodeo, a race and even a beauty pageant.Mongolia has the second highest yak population after Tibet. However they're quite rare in other parts of the world."Many of the people think horses are the symbol of Mongolia," explains festival organiser Otgonbaatar Gombo."Second is (the) yak. Because (the) yak (are) not many. They're (mainly in) Mongolia (or) Tibet. Other countries do not have many yaks." Yak festivals have been held in Mongolia for decades - but these days they're seen as a great way to boost tourism.23 year old yak enthusiast Louis Williams has come from Brisbane, Australia and even tries out riding a yak himself. It makes him the first foreigner to attempt to stay on a bucking yak at the festival. "I was a little bit scared, but after it was over I was fine," he says. "I'm still kind of, a bit shaken, it's the adrenaline. But it was really fun."Williams was among dozens of international spectators, along with visitors from Europe, Korea, the United States and United Kingdom.The celebration also drew hundreds of local spectators, including 56-year old Amar Dolgirsuren, who wore her traditional Mongolian dress, called a deel. "I think it's a wonderful celebration. I think it's great to celebrate the yak festival," she enthused from the sidelines. "People liken it to Naadam and I'm really enjoying this beauty pageant now," she adds, referring to Mongolia's largest festival.According to judges, the most beautiful yaks have big horns and long hair, which is valuable for producing yak down – a thicker and stronger fibre than cashmere. The large mammals also produce curd, cheese and meat.64 year-old yak herder, Tumur-ochir Bagan proudly displays his two winners from the beauty pageant, explaining: "They're twins too."Yaks win the beauty pageant by earning the loudest applause from their audience after parading in circles. There's also a race which generates even more noise from delighted spectators.With nomadic life increasingly under threat due to urbanisation and desertification, the Mongolian Yak Festival is a reminder of the affection herding people hold for their animals and way of life.You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you... Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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AP Archive 4108241 36a6cf500a02db2c1cf2ba1a8d052ae9 HZ Mongolia Yak Festival Mongolia Central Asia Australia Oceania General news Lifestyle Animals
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