Saturday, May 30, 2020
Trailing of the Sheep-It’s Been Called America’s Wackiest Festival
A lonely lamb tries to keep up with her kinfolk as they make their way down the bike path following last year’s Trailing of the Sheep Parade.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019


It’s no secret that Wood River Valley residents have a love affair with their pups. This year the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission will tap into that as they bring a new interactive display following a border collie puppy through a year to the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

The “I-Roam” display will be featured in an 18-foot-long trailer wrapped with images of seasons on the range during the festival’s Sheep Folklife Fair on Saturday.

The 23rd annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival presented by Zions Bank kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 9, with a Farm to Table Dinner. It runs through Sunday, Oct. 13, culminating in the Big Sheep Parade sponsored by the City of Ketchum.

A riderless horse in Sunday’s Trailing of the Sheep Parade will honor those who have been lost this past year, including Ruth Lieder, who volunteered every year to herd people during the Trailing, as well as Juan Goitiandia and Frank Eusebio Astorquia.

This year’s festival will include several culinary events, including a talk by author Mark Kurlansky, a Taste & Craft showcase of local and regional spirits, beer, wine and food and a Sheep Jam Party featuring live music by the Dusty 45s.

A Cheese Making Class will take its place among the cooking classes. And wool and fiber classes will include a Needle-Felted Sheepdog Class, Modern Skinnfelling Class and Cobweb Felting Class

The 2018 Trailing of the Sheep Festival attracted 25,000 visits from locals and out-of-town visitors from such far-flung places as Wales and Puerto Rico once the different events had been tallied, said Laura Musbach Drake, the festival director. Visitors attended from 49 states and 15 countries.

The event had a $4 million economic impact on the local economy, she added.

Peruvian musicians will be among those at Saturday’s Sheep Folklife Fair and Sunday’s parade.

It’s no wonder the festival attracts so many from afar. The five-day festival, which honors a 150-year tradition of trailing or moving sheep, has consistently received accolades as one of America’s top festivals. This year alone, it was named No. 3 in USA Today’s Top Ten Best Fall Festivals, eclipsed only by the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival and Indiana’s West Side Nut street festival. named it one of Nine Fall Festivals Worth Traveling for, along with the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, which features dinosaurs made out of pumpkins in New York’s Hudson Valley, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.

Reader’s Digest called it one of 14 Fall Events to Add to Your Bucket list, along with Salem’s Haunted Happenings and the Wellfleet Oysterfest. The Travel Channel dubbed it one of Ten Amazing Fall Festivals Worth a Road Trip, along with along with the St. Charles Scarecrow Fest and Warrens Cranberry Festival in Wisconsin.

The AARP called it one of Seven Fun Fall Festivals Across the United States, along with the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. And it’s even been recognized as one of the top Animal Festivals in the World and one of the top Ten Fall festivals in the World by USA Today and

Expect all kinds of cute baaa-ites at the For Love of the Lamb tasting and other culinary events.

Shucks, it’s even been called one of America’s Wackiest Fall Festivals by Huffington Post.

“We are thrilled with the ongoing national recognition of this truly unique festival,” said Drake.

The festival started with a few dozen schoolchildren taken out of school to learn how and why the sheep make their way through the valley every fall. It has grown to commemorate a time when Ketchum shipped more sheep to market than any other place in the world, save for Sydney, Australia.

But, as co-founder Diane Peavey points out, it is not a reenactment. It’s a living history—something that still occurs every year.

A group of sheep wait to get the show on the road before last year’s Big Sheep Parade.

“Those of us who live and work in the valley know we have an extraordinary life and that’s what we try to share,” said Peavey, a member of the Flat Top Sheep Ranch family.

The Trailing of the Sheep Headquarters, which will feature programs, maps and festival merchandise, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday in Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel. It also will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets and other information are also available at


FRIDAY, Oct. 11

  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CHAMPIONSHIP SHEEPDOG TRIALS get underway in Quigley Canyon and continue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Turn off Highway 75 onto Fox Acres Road across from the Hailey airport to get there.

    Some of the West’s most talented border collies and their handlers will try to pen feisty sheep being loaned to the festival by the Flat Top Sheep Company. Dogs who do well will receive points toward national competition.

    Admission is $5 per person with children under 5 admitted free. Leashed dogs are permitted, as are lawn chairs. There will be food for sale on site, along with items to purchase from 30 vendors.

  • 2:30-4 p.m. A SHEEP RANCHING QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION with Rupert Sheep Rancher Henry Etcheverry will be held at the Community Library, 415 Spruce St. in Ketchum.

    Etcheverry’s father Jean Pierre came to America at 16 from the Basque region of southern France and worked as a herder for $40 a month in the Great Basin. Eventually he moved to Pocatello where his wife Louise Savala ran a boarding house and he began his own sheep operation with 1,200 ewes.

    Today Henry runs 6,200 breeding ewes and 1200 replacement yearlings, providing 80,000 pounds of wool to the Pendleton Woolen Mills.

    Etcheverry will be accompanied by Laird Noh, president of the Noh Sheep Company in Kimberly and chairman of the Rocky Mountain Sheep Marketing Association. Free.

  • 4:30 p.m. This year’s FOR THE LOVE OF LAMB restaurant walkabout will feature 15 restaurants, including such new vendors as The Mint, Sun Valley Culinary Institute, Café Della, and Pandora’s Legacy from Twin Falls.

    The event has been revamped with a $20 ticket guaranteeing at least five lamb baaa-ites, including a Lamb & Carrot Stew with Mint and Walnut Pesto and Pomegranate Molasses. Tickets are available online until noon Thursday or until sold out. After that time, they’ll be available at Festival Headquarters at the Limelight Hotel beginning at 9 a.m. Friday.

    P.S. Thunderpaws Pet Shoppe at 171 N. Main St., in Ketchum will have free lamb samples for four-legged friends all day on Friday.

        * 7 p.m. Cultural Historian Mark Kurlansky, author of “Cod,” “Salt,” “The Basque History of the World,” “Milk,” “International Night” and the soon-to-be-released “Salmon and the Earth,” will headline this year’s SHEEP TALES GATHERING at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum.

    While the festival has long offered Cooking with Lamb Classes, including one this year featuring Lamb Loin with Black Trumpet Crust, the focus on food through storytelling represents a new chapter for the festival, said Drake.

    Kurlansky will lead a conversation on “Food as Culture,” joined by Dan Ansotegui, Basque restaurateur and Oinkari dancer from Boise; Cristina Ceccatelli Cook, founder of Cristina’s Restaurant in Ketchum; Dominique Etcheverry, a sheep rancher from Rupert, and Chris Koetke, dean of the new Sun Valley Culinary institute. Tickets are $25.

    SATURDAY, Oct. 12

  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m. SHEEP DOG TRIALS continue in Hailey’s Quigley Canyon.
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The SHEEP FOLKLIFE FAIR at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey will feature music and dancing from such groups as the Oinkari Basque Dancers, Peruvian Dancers and the Boise Highlanders. This year the Dewey, Pickette and Howe bluegrass band made up of Gary Carlson, Brad Hershey and Dave Muscavage will step in, playing Americana folk music in place of the Polish Highlanders of Chicago, who have another commitment.

    The free fair will also feature sheep shearing demonstrations every half-hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and all kinds of one-of-a-kind handbags, knitting bowl pottery, Basque items and other sheep-related items for purchase from 80-plus vendors. The Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission is bringing a new interactive display titled I-Roam in an 18-foot trailer wrapped with images of seasons on the range, and there’ll be plenty of lamb dishes to choose from, including Lamb Kawarma.

    In addition, there will be a Kids’ Fluff booth providing face painting and crafts for children.

  • 5-8 p.m. TASTE & CRAFT will sport unlimited tastings of spirits, beer, wine and craft foods vendors from Idaho and the Pacific Northwest at the Argyros Performing Arts Center. A tasting glass and light seasonal appetizers will be included. A limited number of $75 tickets are available at Net proceeds will benefit the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

    6-11 p.m. SHEEP JAM at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum. A Cocktail Reception will be held at 6 p.m., followed by a Lamb Dinner Buffet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The Dusty 45s will perform at 8:30 p.m.

    The Dusty 45s feature guitarist and trumpeter Billy Joe Huels, whose original songs are inspired by the roots of rock, rhythm and blues, honkytonk and jazz. He is accompanied by a lead guitar player, upright bass player, drummer and piano.

    They have shared the stage with Wanda Jackson, Lyle Lovett, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Leann Rhymes, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Lucinda Williams.

    Those who purchase a Sheep Jam Dinner & Show ticket will be offered free entry into the Taste & Craft Taste Takeover with craft cocktails from 10 p.m. to midnight at the Boho Lounge. Those with a show ticket get half-price entry into the Takeover.

    The Sheep Jam is sold out but $25 tickets are available for the show.

    SUNDAY, Oct. 13

  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. SHEEP DOG TRIALS conclude in Quigley Canyon.
  • 9-11:30 a.m. A SHEEP PHOTOGRAPHY outing led by Michael Edminster, who has spent years documenting sheep in Sun Valley’s backcountry, will take shutterbugs into the hills north of Ketchum to shoot pictures of the sheep before they make their way down to Ketchum’s Main Street. Meet at the Ketchum Post Office, 151 4th St. A shuttle will be provided for $10. Or, you can drive yourself for free.
  • 9:30-11 a.m. Sheep Rancher John Peavey and Jerry Seiffert will tell SHEEPHERDING STORIES at The Argyros, 120 Main St. in Ketchum. Free.
  • 10 a.m. Cindy and Gary Braun will provide cowboy music at the Ketchum Town Square until the parade starts at noon. Free.
  • Noon. The BIG SHEEP PARADE is expected to attract thousands of visitors to watch a wall of wool comprised of 1,500 sheep owned by the Faulkner Land & Livestock company parade down Ketchum’s Main Street enroute from summer pastures in the Sawtooth Mountains to warmer wintering grounds.

    They will be joined by historic sheep wagons and musicians and dancers reflecting the heritage of sheep herding.

    Viewers are asked to keep dogs at home and stay on the curb so as not to spook the sheep, which will  no doubt experience culture shock after having spent a summer off the grid.

  • 1 p.m. A HAPPY TRAILS CLOSING PARTY will feature the Carolyn Martin Swing Band of Nashville, who will be performing in the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival, which starts Wednesday, Oct. 16. The group will perform at Ketchum Town Square where a LAMB PARADE PICNIC will be held before and after the parade.
  • 2-3:30 p.m. A SHEEPHERDER HIKE complete with stories will be offered by Flat Top Sheep Rancher John Peavey who will take tourgoers to Neal Canyon north of Ketchum to see tree carvings etched on aspen by sheepherders. Meet at the Ketchum Forest Service Park, First and Washington streets. A shuttle will cost $10. Or you can drive yourself for free.


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