Bring on the Sheep!

It’s that wonderful time of the year, a time when we celebrate our heritage, the glorious autumn weather, and, of course, sheep! The Trailing of the Sheep Festival, scheduled this year for October 5 to 9, is chock-a-block with events and activities that are fun whether you are 3 or 93. Festival events run up and down the Wood River Valley and are a terrific way to get outside and enjoy the season.

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates the area’s rich history with fabulous food, tantalizing textiles, and fun for the entire family

Many say their favorite part of Trailing of the Sheep weekend is the food. Throughout the Festival, the Valley’s finest chefs and restaurants prepare American lamb specialties to tempt the palate. From lamb burgers to Asian and Mexican inspired dishes to traditional ways to prepare lamb, the choices are endless.

Very popular cooking classes are also part of the fun. Chef Jim Roberts will offer three distinct classes at the Wood River Sustainability Center in Hailey featuring ground lamb meatballs and lamb burgers, rack of lamb, and leg of lamb.  CK’s Chef Chris Kastner will teach butchering techniques for the home chef at his Hailey eatery. Chef Brent Rasmussen of Iconoclast in Ketchum will teach students a lamb chop and lamb lasagna recipe, while Chef Laurent Loubot of Ketchum’s Michel's Christiania is sure to add a French flair to his lamb dish. Finally, Chef Sean Temple of Ketchum’s Warfield Distillery & Brewery will offer a butchering demonstration. Please note: these classes normally sell out early and pre-registration is required.

For many, the highlight of the Festival is food! From specialties at local restaurants to cooking classes, if you are a fan of lamb, this is for you

Still hungry? Another delicious way to enjoy the weekend is the For the Love of Lamb tasting on October 7 starting at 4:30 p.m. Ketchum will transform into a moveable feast when local restaurants prepare their favorite bite-size lamb recipes. This is a great social event and a terrific way to sample many delicious flavors.

One of the biggest events of the weekend, the Trailing of the Sheep parade also has a great culinary component. In Ketchum on Irving’s Hill at Main Street and Fourth from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., parade watchers can nosh on Lamb Gyros and Italian Hoagies, wine by Sawtooth Winery and beer at the Parade Picnic. Idaho favorites Gary and Cindy Braun will be performing on the hill - and don't miss your last chance to purchase t-shirts and other Festival merchandise.

Be sure to enjoy a tasty picnic while you enjoy the sights and sounds of the Trailing of the Sheep parade on Sunday

Believe it or not, there is so much more to the weekend than the food. Wednesday and Thursday visitors are invited to the Festival Headquarters at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. There, knowledgeable staffers can answer all your questions, register you for events, and there is great festival merch.  A guest exhibitor, Elena Gonzales, will be selling beautiful rugs and guest exhibitor Julie Weston will sing sell her new book Basque Moon. On Thursday, the Festival’s emphasis on textiles gets underway with instructions on creating a Sawtooth Mountains knitted scarf from 4 – 6 p.m. and from 6 – 7:30 p.m. there will be a presentation: “Sheep Tales and Reading from the Land” by prominent western writers. 

The Festival places a strong emphasis on textiles and wool and offers many classes for interested participants

On Friday, one of the highlights of the weekend for many gets underway.  From dawn to dusk at Quigley Canyon Field in Hailey, the 2016 National Point Qualifying Sheepdog Trials will draw large crowds. For a small fee of $3 (children 12 and under are free), you will see some of the most amazing dogs doing what they do best. That day will also instruction in Zapotec Dyeing and Weaving from 9 a.m. to noon. There is additional instruction that morning. Classes include: “Something is Batty with my Yarn!”, “Felted Soap”, a “Thrummed Knitting Workshop”, creating a “Tapestry Beaded Bag”, “Botanical Dyes”, creating wool pillows, and “Nuno Felting”. The afternoon offers even more! For a full schedule and to register, please click HERE. That evening at 7 p.m., the next generation of sheep ranchers in the west will tell tales and discuss the future of ranching at nexStage.

At the Folklife Fair, sheep await shearing or huddle to get used to their new haircuts – a favorite exhibition for spectators

On Saturday, the Sheep Dog Trials continue as do numerous classes. The very popular Folklife Fair takes place this day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., too, at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey. It’s free and a great way to get a taste of everything that makes the Trailing of the Sheep weekend so special. Experience artists, music, dance, food, sheep-shearing, and family fun.  A Lamb Fest will keep you fed and happy as you explore the many offerings. Then, Saturday night the party kicks into high gear with the 20th Anniversary Celebration & Sheepherder’s Ball at nexStage. Get ready to dance the night away.

The Folklife Fair provides hands-on ways to experience our area’s rich history like exploring historic sheep wagons

On Sunday, there are many activities but the main event is the Trailing of the Sheep Parade at high noon.  Gather along Ketchum’s Main Street to enjoy Basque dancers, historic sheep wagons, participants from the Folklife Fair, and the finale of thousands of sheep running and jumping through town on their annual migration to winter pastures.

The sheep are the stars of the weekend as they pass through town on their way to greener winter pastures

Ranked as "One of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World" by msn.com, the Trailing of the Sheep weekend is a unique Sun Valley experience and one that should not be missed.

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