Each summer, my husband and I live on our wilderness property in a wild canyon not far from Hailey and Sun Valley, Idaho. A nearby sheep rancher and his men bring a large band of sheep to our mountain valley for summer grazing. We have been able to see up close how hard and amazing the life of the rancher is, and the effort and skill of his Peruvian herder, his dogs and horse. This is difficult, often thankless work, and we have seen the dedication of the men and their amazing herding dogs and fascinating guardian dogs. In fact, we have as a pet an Akbash dog from the rancher. The Trailing of the Sheep festival brings the spotlight to this life, to the great effort involved in raising livestock. The Festival has showcased the colorful costumes, music and dance of the ancient Latin American heritage from which these herders come. It brings to children and 'city folk' the beauty of the horse and dogs and the wildness of the sheep, as they race through the town of Ketchum. It brings Basque food and delicious lamb. It highlights the wonders of wool, often forgotten in these days of synthetics. The Festival, the genius of Diane Peavey, a sheep rancher's wife and a well-known author, has exploded into a multi-day, multi-faceted celebration of the glory and difficulty of living with nature. In its color and vibrance, it celebrates our multi-cultural America. It celebrates all that is wild and real.
What an amazing experience to be a part of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. It was such an educational and energetic celebration of the valley's heritage, and the beloved sheep. I recommend this event to anyone who loves a beautiful setting, great food, great people and lots of fun!
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival, held this past October 11 - 14 was amazing. The Sun Valley are (home to the famed Ski Restort) was filled with tourists and locals alike in search of all thinks lamb! And noone was dissappointed. There were free lamb tastings at some of Ketchums finest restaurants on Friday night, followed by a gathering of women writers from the West, sharing their stories about raising themselves, their families and sheep on ranches throughout Idao and the West. On Saturday, the city of Hailey (everything is within 14 miles) was the place to be. The Folklife Fair had everything from great entertainment - Basque Dancers, Scottish Bagpipes, Peruvian music and so much more - to craftsmen selling everything wooly - and Hailey's best restaurants prepared lamb dishes of all sorts, for a very reasonable lunch ticket. Along with all this, throughout the weekend, there were lectures and lamb shearing, fleece judging, kids activities, wool crafting classes, cooking classes, museum exhibits, and a couple very special presentations by Linda Cortwright, Founder and editor of Wild Fibers Magazine. The Festival is also home to a Points Qualifying Sheepdog Trial. This year 54 dogs competed to pen 5 wild sheep after herding them through a course in 12 minutes. It is an amazing sight to watch these dog work the sheep. The Festival is a stand alone 501 c 3 and raises the funds each year to bring the Festival to life with all events free or for a minimal charge. The biggest event closes the Festival with a parade of 1500 sheep "trailing" down Main Street in Ketchum - which isn't staged - it is the rancher's right of way to bring the sheep from their summer to winter grazing lands.