Monday, June 17, 2019
Trailing of the Sheep Puts Himalayan Shepherdess in the Spotlight
Tsering started looking after her family’s livestock at age 20 when her father passed away. Courtesy photo.
Monday, October 2, 2017


On a Himalayan mountain plateau 16,400 feet high 40-year-old Tsering protects 250 sheep and pashmina goats from snow leopards and wolves and temperatures that dip as low as 32 degrees Celsius.

But this sheep midwife, who lives alone in harmony with her natural surroundings for 11 months of the year, worries that she cannot protect them from climate change which has devastated much of the remote area of Ladakh in which she lives.

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival will screen the award-winning 74-minute film “The Shepherdess of the Glacier” at 7 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House as part of its ongoing mission to introduce audiences to cultures around the world that rely on sheep for their livelihood.

The sheep are the stars of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

Filmmaker Stanzin Dorjai-Gya—Tsering’s brother—and Konchok Stobgais will field questions about the film following the film, along with “Wild Fibers” magazine editor Linda Cortright and a couple ranchers who will discuss what it’s like to work in remote areas in the American West.

“The film is terrific, really wonderful,” said Diane Josephy Peavey, who co-founded the Trailing of the Sheep event with her husband John Peavey 21 years ago.

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival will shine the spotlight on all things lamb and wool for five days beginning Wednesday, Oct. 4.

It will sport many of the usual attractions, such as the Sheep Folklife Fair and the Sheepdog Trials, that have earned it a reputation as one of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World by

Saturday’s free Sheep Folklife Fair in Hailey introduces spectators to the high flying Boise Highlanders, in addition to Peruvian, Polish and Basque dancers. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

But this year’s festival will feature a few changes, as well, including a charge for the once-free Love of Lamb Baaites on Friday evening and the substitution of the Sun Valley Opera House and Whiskey Jacques for the nexStage Theatre.

About 6,000 people attend Saturday’s Sheep Folklife Fair each year, with between 3,000 and 4,000 attending the sheepdog trials and as many as 5,000 showing up for Sunday’s parade, said Musbach. About 25,000 people show up for all the events combined.

“The festival has a $4.5 million impact on the local economy,” she said. “And it’s become a bucket list festival for people who come from all over, including Switzerland, Australia, India and Canada.”

Here’s what you need to know:

The Boise Highlanders will be part of Sunday’s parade through Ketchum. PHOTO: Karen Bossick


FOR THE LOVE OF LAMB, which features small lamb dishes from 10 Ketchum restaurants, will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Ketchum. Unlike previous years where the tastings were free, this year’s tastings cost $5 per restaurant.

Participating restaurants include Cristina’s (leg of lamb with chimichurri sauce), Enoteca (wild rice lamb meatballs), Limelight (cumin lamb sausage pizza), Rasberrys (lamb carnitas), Rominna’s (roasted leg of lamb), The Haven (lamb gyro), The Sawtooth Club (lamb stroganoff), Town Square Tavern (Moroccan lamb tagine), Warfield (lamb belly BLT) and Whiskey Jacques (Moroccan lamb puff pastry).

Each restaurant will prepare about 200 dishes, said Laura Musbach Drake, the festival’s executive director.

People may purchase tickets online at or at festival headquarters at the Limelight Hotel beginning Wednesday. Any restaurant that has not sold out by show time will also have tickets for sale on site.

In addition:

Sun Valley chefs, such as Chris Kastner of CK’s and Al McCord of the Wood River Sustainability Center, will offer an array of COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS using lamb, including one with hazelnut pesto lamb lasagna. There are still a few openings.

Eight Hailey restaurants will serve lamb kofta with fattoush marinated vegetable salad, Peruvian lamb stew and other lamb dishes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, during the LAMB FEST at the Sheep Folklife Fair in Hailey’s Roberta McKercher Park.

The Wood River Sustainability Center will serve lamb gyros, Italian hoagies, chili and grilled cheese at the PARADE PICNIC from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Irving’s Hill at 4th and Main Street Ketchum during Sunday’s parade in Ketchum. Gary and Cindy Braun will yodel cowboy favorites during the event.

Two FARM TO TABLE DINNERS have sold out.


In addition to showing their film, Dorjai-Gya and Stobgais will take part in “A Day with the Nomads” on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. Their Tibetan Spindle Class and cooking demonstration are sold out, but there are still openings for their presentation about herding in the Himalayas from 2 to 4 p.m.

There are 13 wool classes, including classes involving loopy fringe and designer scarves, tapestry beaded weaving, truck sheep pillows, felted sheep pouches, hats, felting, felted soap, dyeing and wool cleaning.


The trials will be held from dawn to dusk Friday and Saturday and from dawn until 2 p.m. Sunday at Quigley Canyon fields in Hailey. Admission is $3 per person with children under 5 free.

Sixty-nine dogs are expected to take part, and there will be more than 30 vendors selling everything from sheep and wool-related items to handcrafted dog collars and jewelry.

Championship Sheep Dog Handler Lavon Calzacorta oversees the trials where dogs try to pen sheep on a 50-acre site with instinct, the tweet of a whistle and a few simple commands, such as “Come by.”

“The dog handlers like our trials because the sheep, provided by John Peavey, are basically wild,” said Drake. They’re not used to being herded in small groups, whereas a lot of other sheep dog trials feature sheep that are used to it so they’re not as entertaining.”

Mountain Rides will provide a complimentary shuttle from the Sheeplife Folk Festival at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey to the dog trials on Saturday with a 45-minute loop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Saturday’s free Sheep Folklife Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Hailey’s Roberta McKercher Park will feature more than 50 vendors chosen by a jury selling a range of products from Laurale Neal’s one-of-a-kind felted wool purses to sheep cheese. There’ll be sheep shearing demonstrations by Ed Wilde, Tyler Wilde, Paula and John Balderson every half-hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Bagpipers will blow their horns, and Peruvians, Basques and Polish Highlanders will twirl on the dance grounds throughout the day, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.

The 5Bee Quilt Show will be held in the former Armory, now the Hailey Police Department headquarters, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show will include the popular Bed Turnings, where quilters tell the story behind various quilts, and a quilt raffle.

There also will be a Kids’ Fluff activity booth featuring face painting, crafts, storytelling, carding with wool and other kid’s activities directed by 4H leader Kathi Kimball.

And Idaho sheep rancher Cindy Siddoway and Dillon, Mont., sheep rancher John Helle will tell “The Story of Wool” at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.


Thirteen artists, including Bellevue photographer Anne Jeffery, will share art with festival-goers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at Friday at Trailing Headquarters at the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum.


The Sheepherders Ball, from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum, will feature alternative country music by Idaho native son Micky Braun and his Motorcars. Micky’s aunt and uncle Cindy and Gary Braun, will provide acoustic western music during the cocktail hour from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $125 for the cocktail reception, lamb dinner buffet and show. Tickets are $25 for the show only, which features Micky and the Motorcars from 8:30 to 10 p.m.


LIFE AS A NOMAD--On Thursday Himalayan natives Stanzin Dorjai, Konchock Stobgais and Tundup Wangail will talk about life as a nomad, while showing how they make rope for tying yurts and yaks and other skills. The talk will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden on Highway 75 and Gimlet Road south of Ketchum. Cost is $20.

SHEEP RANCHERS--On Friday Sheep ranchers Henry Etcheverry, Laird Noh and other ranchers will entertain an audience with tales of sheep ranching during a free presentation from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Friday, at Community Library in Ketchum. Free.

On Sunday Flat Top Sheep rancher John Peavey will tell stories at the Sun Valley Visitor Center inside Starbucks from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Free.


John Peavey will lead a guided hike through sheepherder tree carvings on aspen trees from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The hike is rated easy.

A shuttle will ferry participants to the grove a few miles north of Ketchum from Ketchum’s Forest Service Park at First and Washington streets, at 2 p.m. for $10. Or, people can follow for free in their cars.


About 1,500 of Gooding rancher John Faulkner’s sheep will parade down Ketchum’s Main Street as part of their annual migration from summer pastures in the mountains north of Sun Valley. The parade celebrates a 150-plus-year tradition of moving sheep from mountains to winter grazing areas in the south.

The parade will include historic sheep wagons and participants form the Folklife Fair, including the Oinkari Basque Dancers and the Boise Highlanders.

People are asked to leave dogs at home. Those who wish to join in the walk may do so at the end.


The festival sets up headquarters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday in the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum. It will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. There will be programs and festival merchandise available.


Volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs, including assisting at headquarters, the Sheepdog Trials, the Sheepherders’ Ball and more. To help, contact Volunteer Coordinator Geegee Lowe at or call 208-720-0585.

To host a bagpiper or a Basque dancer in your home, contact or call 208-720-0585.


This year’s Trailing will be covered by a variety of media, including “Small Town Big Deal,” a nationally syndicated TV show seen by a million viewers a week. It is hosted by Jann Carl, formerly of “Entertainment Tonight,” and Rodney Miller, and it celebrates small town America and the unique individuals, businesses and festivals that have helped put their town on the map.

It airs locally at 1:35 a.m. Saturdays on ABC-TV and 1008 on cable TV. It also airs on Direct TV Channel 345, Dish TV Channel 231 and U-verse Channel 568.



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