Trailing of the Sheep Festival

Thu, Oct 9, 2014 (All day) to Sun, Oct 12, 2014 (All day)

Every year, the popular Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates the century and a half long tradition of moving sheep from mountain summer pastures south through the Wood River Valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas. This annual migration is Idaho living history and a weekend long festival that highlights the people, cultures, and traditions of sheep ranching in Idaho and the west.  This is not a reenactment, but an authentic slice of the American west.

2014 marks the 18th year of the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival.  It has grown into a 4-day event including sheep storytelling and readings, music, a full day Folklife Fair with sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep arts and crafts, and the National Point Qualifying Sheepdog Trials.  There is dancing, singing, music and food honoring the tradition of welcoming fathers, brothers, sons, animals and family home from a long summer of grazing in the mountains.  This Festival honors the colorful history, heritage and cultures of Idaho and the west.

In 2014, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival is beginning a three-year project called “Celebrating Generations.”   In 2014, we will be honoring the visionaries, many who are still working on the ranch.  These are our ‘elders’ who have stories we need to hear and capture.  It was Ben Franklin who said, “The farther back you look, the farther forward you see.”  Their stories are the history of the west.  In future years, we will celebrate the dreamers, today’s ranchers, and then in 2016, we’ll honor the children.  Ranching families are being invited from around the west to participate in the weekend activities and to share stories with our guests.  They will all participate in the Trailing of the Sheep Parade on Sunday, helping to trail the sheep down Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho.

The Festival will also highlight today’s wool.  Recent innovations in the American wool market will allow wool to be warmer, softer and now washable.  We will be bringing speakers to talk about the new technological advances in wool today. 

The Hot Club of Cowtown was such a hit, we have agreed to bring them back to Sun Valley for the 2014 Sheepherder’s Ball.  They are a hot jazz/western swing band that is currently touring in London and the U.K.  The group has a huge following in the west especially with fans of the Western Folklife Center’s Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The 2014 Festival will also feature expanded and unique multicultural experiences, beautiful woolen creations, Basque, Scottish, Peruvian and Polish musicians, dancers and storytellers, culinary events at each main venue, the Sheep Tales Gathering – focusing on Storytelling, an expanded Fiber Festival with public and industry events, demonstrations, artists, displays, championship sheepdog trials and a host of other activities culminating in the annual Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep prancing down Main Street in Ketchum.

In addition to more gourmet cooking classes featuring top local chefs, the extremely popular free lamb tasting event, For the Love of Lamb in association with local restaurants and chefs will take place on Friday, October 10 starting at 5:00 p.m.  Lamb tastings will be featured at several restaurants and other venues with famous local chefs and restaurants presenting their best lamb recipes. 

The Lamb Feast will take place on Saturday, October 11th, during the Zions Bank Folklife Fair.  Six chefs will be preparing the best in lamb and Basque food to benefit the Festival

Sunday, before and after the Parade, Festival Board members are hosting their annual authentic lamb barbecue as a fundraiser for the Festival.

The Festival weekend includes:

Trailing of the Sheep Parade – 1,500 sheep parade down Main Street Ketchum, Idaho

  • SheepTales gathering featuring Hank Vogler, one of the most beloved and funniest sheep ranchers in the west.
  • Gourmet cooking workshops
  • Felting and fiber workshops
  • Peruvian musicians and dancers
  • Polish Tatra musicians, storytellers and dancers
  • Oinkari Basque dancers
  • Boise Highlanders, bagpipers and drummers
  • Zions Bank Sheep Folklife Fair
  • Sheep shearing demonstrations
  • Sheep wagon displays
  • Spinning and weaving demonstrations
  • Children’s activities
  • Wool and craft shops
  • Trailing of the sheepdog Championship Trials (Sat and Sun)

For a complete schedule, see the website,

Contact Mary Austin Crofts, 208-720-0585 or email


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