It’s Baaaaaack!

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After a COVID-caused hiatus, the Valley’s landmark festival returns Oct. 6–10. Photo credit: Michael Edminster

25th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival under way through Oct. 10

By Eric Valentine

Despite remaining in “critical” condition as it relates to COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity across the region, the festival that gathers a whole bunch of people—and sheep—in one place is under way.

Ketchum’s five-day, landmark Trailing of the Sheep Festival kicked off Tuesday with a special Farm to Table Dinner with American Lamb and Local Produce at Al’s Sustainable Mercantile in Hailey. And on Oct. 10 festivities will wrap up with the annual sheep parade down Main Street in Ketchum, followed by the closing party at Ketchum’s Town Square.

Even in the face of a pandemic there is much for residents here to be proud of and tourists here to be compelled by. Sheep have been trailing through the Wood River Valley of Idaho for well over a century. For the past 25 years, sheepherding, history, culture and food have been the focus of the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival, which has been recognized as one of the “Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World” by msn.com.

For its 25th anniversary, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival is planning a special

celebration, with new programs and events, including the unveiling and dedication of The Good

Shepherd Monument, a legacy tribute that includes 11 life-sized bronze sculptures featuring

eight sheep, a sheepherder, horse and dog to be installed in Hailey.

The festival honors the 150-plus-year annual tradition of moving (trailing) sheep from high mountain summer pastures down through the Valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas in the

south. As in non-pandemic times, there will be nonstop activities in multiple venues, organizers said, including folk arts, a Sheep Folklife Fair, lamb culinary offerings, a Wool Festival with classes and workshops, music, dance, storytelling, Championship Sheepdog Trials and, of course, the Big Sheep Parade down Main Street in Ketchum.

2021 Festival Highlights

Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep trailing down Main Street in Ketchum

Championship Sheepdog Trials with 100 of the country’s most talented border collies and sheepdogs competing for prizes

Sheep Folklife Fair featuring Basque, Scottish and Peruvian dancers and musicians, sheep shearing, folk, fiber and traditional artists, children’s activities and more

Sheep Tales Gathering will present author and essayist Gretel Ehrlich who will share stories rom her latest book “Unsolaced: Along the Way to All That Is”—tales of arduous expeditions, observations, meditations and conversations on trips from the Arctic to Zimbabwe and more, and including stories of land, communities, families and traditions now affected by climate chaos even in the most remote places Ehrlich traveled

25th Anniversary Celebration PERUVIAN BALLET FOLKLORICA, performed by the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance and Chaskis Peruvian Musicians, and focusing on Andean music and dance

Culinary events with lamb tastings, a Lamb Fest at the Folklife Fair, lamb cooking classes, and Farm to Table lamb dinners

Wool Fest with classes and workshops

Hikes and Histories featuring Idaho’s sheep ranchers and renowned storytellers

Happy Trails Closing Party at Ketchum Town Square with live music by Cindy & Gary Braun and Gator Nation in partnership with the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival

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