June 2016: One would be hard pressed to find a more authentic or unique cultural heritage event than the 20th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival, held October 5th – 9th, 2016 in the picturesque Wood River Valley of Idaho. Each fall the popular Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates the 150+ year tradition of moving sheep from mountain summer pastures south through the valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas. This annual migration is Idaho living history and a weekend long family-friendly festival that highlights the people, arts, cultures, and traditions of sheep ranching in Idaho and the west. This is not a reenactment; it is living history at its best. The wild and woolly event has national and international appeal, drawing thousands each autumn to the charming mountain communities of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley in central Idaho.
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival has garnered its share of top accolades including being recognized as one of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World by msn.com travel, Top Ten US Fall Festivals by smartertravel.com, Top Animal Festivals in the World and Top Ten Fall Festivals by USA Today, America’s Wackiest Fall Festivals by HuffingtonPost, One of the Greatest Cultural Events in the West by Northwest Travel, and is the recipient of the Idaho Governor’s Award for Cultural Heritage.
In 2016, the Festival continues its three-year program “Celebrating Generations.” The idea is to listen, learn, share and save the memories of western families – dreamers, all of them, who live and work the land and are the keepers of open space. Ranching families will be attending from around the west to share their stories and help trail the sheep through the Wood River Valley. The five-day Festival includes nonstop activities in multiple venues – history, folk and traditional arts, a Folklife Fair and Wool Fest with classes and workshops, music, dance, storytelling and two days of Championship Sheepdog Trials. There is dancing, singing, music and food honoring the tradition of welcoming fathers, brothers, sons and family home from a long summer of grazing in the mountains. This Festival honors the colorful history, heritage and cultures of Idaho and the west. It is a celebration of tradition that is well loved by people of all ages and all walks of life.
2016 Highlights include:
• Authentic Sheep Folklife Fair featuring Basque, Scottish Polish and Peruvian dancers and music, sheep shearing, sheep wagon displays, storytelling sessions, sheep and wool exhibits, and shops classes, children’s activities and lamb created by local chefs.
• Culinary events like Cooking with Idaho Lamb classes, For the Love of Lamb Foodie Fest, Lamb Feast, authentic Lamb barbecue.
• Sheep Tales Gathering featuring Idaho’s famous sheep ranching families and other renowned storytellers
• Wool Fest with classes, workshops, fleece competition, exhibits and special lectures.
• 3 Day Championship Sheepdog Trials with 50 of the most talented border collies in the U.S.
• Sheepherder’s Ball with the sizzling Hot Club of Cowtown from Austin – named best music group 2012 by True West magazine.
• Trailing of the Sheep Parade starring 2,000 sheep trailing down Main Street Ketchum. It’s a wall of wool! Plus sheep wagons, ethnic dancers and musicians and Father Ken “blessing the flock” of sheep.
For information and detailed schedule of events, www.trailingofthesheep.org