Unique Cultural Festival Celebrates Sheep, Land, People and Stories
Contributed by Trailing of the Sheep
Sheep have been trailing through the Wood River Valley of Idaho for well over a century-and-a-half and are an integral part of Idaho’s western heritage. The iconic Trailing of the Sheep Festival, to be held October 4–8, 2023, celebrates the sheep, herders, history, and food of this unique cultural tradition, and is recognized as one of the “Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World” by msn.com.
Each fall, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival honors the 150+ year annual tradition of moving sheep (‘trailing’) from high mountain summer pastures down through the Valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas in the south. This annual migration is living history and the focus of a unique and authentic Festival that celebrates the people, arts, cultures, and traditions of Idaho’s sheep ranching families, highlighting the principal contributors – the Basques, Scottish and Peruvians.
Sheep shearing demonstrations captivates audiences. Photo by Carol Waller
The five-day Festival includes nonstop activities in multiple venues – history, folk arts, an authentic Sheep Folklife Fair, lamb culinary offerings, a Wool Fest with classes and workshops, music, storytelling, National Qualifying Sheepdog Trials and, the always entertaining, Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep hoofing it down Main Street in Ketchum.
Oinkari Basque dancers hoop dance tunnel. Photo by Carol Waller
2023 Festival Highlights include:
Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep trailing down Main Street in Ketchum
National Qualifying Sheepdog Trials featuring over 80 of the county’s most talented border collies and their handlers competing for top awards
Sheep Folklife Fair featuring the Basque, Scottish, and Peruvian dancers and musicians, sheep shearing demonstrations, over 70 sheep and wool product vendors, children’s activities and more
Sheep Tales Gathering will present “A Navajo Woman’s Life Journey as a Weaver” featuring TahNibaa Naataanii, a 5th generation Navajo weaver and sheep rancher from New Mexico who raises the heritage breed sheep, the Navajo Churro.
Culinary Events with For the Love of Lamb tastings, Lamb Fest at the Folklife Fair, Cooking with Lamb classes, a Cheese Making Class, and Farm to Table Lamb Dinners featuring Idaho lamb from local ranchers
Wool Fest featuring a variety of classes and workshops
Hikes and Histories featuring Idaho’s sheep ranchers and local historians and storytellers
Happy Trails Closing Party in the Ketchum Town Square (before and after the Big Sheep Parade) featuring vendors, food, and live music by Cindy & Gary Braun and The Pisten Bullys.
For the detailed schedule, tickets, and lodging deals, visit www.trailingofthesheep.org.
The 2023 Big Sheep Parade is sponsored by the City of Ketchum, with many other supporters and friends bringing the Festival to fruition.