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Crowd Flocks to Wool and Lamb Fest
Monday, October 11, 2021


Ilyas Pierce stopped in his tracks as his mother pushed a stroller carrying his little brother across the lawn of the Sheep Folklife Fair.

Cuddling up to a fiberglass sheep on the lawn, the 3-year-old examined it from every angle, running his fingers through its sculpted wool and fingering its ears.

At 3 Pierce has never been to Afghanistan—his Afghan mother has lived in Boise for four years. But he seems to feel the DNA of Afghan sheepherding.

“Afghanistan is very much into sheepherding,” said his mother Sadaf Faheem. “I learned of this festival and thought: How cool to imagine the sheep coming down from the mountains and a sheep festival every year.”

Fairgoers crowded into the Sheep Folklife Fair on Saturday, sampling black truffle artisan sheep cheese, fondling soap shaped like potatoes, snapping up Rum Custard and Cherry Basque cakes and watching Peruvian dancers wearing Conquistador masks.

Diane Walker helped herself to lamb tacos served up by KB’s, while Hope Page savored Lava Lake Lamb bratwurst on a bd of sauerkraut.

And Lisa Soeby agonized as she tried to pick a pair of wool mittens from a Boise vendor named Northern Lights.

“They’re so soft I want to sleep in them. Trying to choose—that’s the problem,” she said.

The fair was a part of a busy weekend that included a fast-paced two-hour show by Utah Hispanic Alliance featuring dancers outfitted in dazzling sequined costume and bathed in the green lights of the jungle and the yellow lights of mountaintops.

Best-selling Gretel Ehrlich recounted how she came face to face with climate change when the dog sled she was riding in broke through thin ice in Greenland. “Are we going to die?” she asked the musher. “Maybe” he replied in his native language.

The trouble with computer forecasting models is that they haven't felt the melting ice under their feet, she added. "That's why I write about these things."

“The climate problem, the political problem…How are we going to escape these. These are not unsolvable problems,” she added.

Those taking part in the Lamb Dine-Around Friday night were greeted by a half-hour drizzle—perhaps the first rain the festival has experienced since rain appropriately greeted a festival dedicated to Scottish sheepherders in year three.

No matter. The rain didn’t drown the Lamb Lolly Chops or the Sawtooth Club’s Tuscan Style Lamb Meatballs with Marina and Mozzarella. And when the umbrellas went down people seemed quite content to hang.

“This is a nice way to introduce people to the restaurants around town,” said Juli Roos.


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