Monday, October 19, 2009

field trip: Trailing of the Sheep Festival

Trailing of the Sheep FestivalLast week I traveled from St. Paul to my home state, to take my mom to a Ketchum, Idaho tradition; The Trailing of the Sheep Festival. It’s a weekend of food, events and shows centered around the culture of sheep in Idaho. You’ll find traditional Basque and Pervuian dancers, sheep dog training and trials, barbecues and local restaurants preparing lamb dishes for all to try.

The main event is a parade, but it’s not your normal event. Main Street is shut down, thousands of people line the streets and 1500 sheep are herded right through town.

Sheepherder WagonTraditional wagons that sheepherders live in, pulled by beautiful horses were the first “floats” to take the trek through Main Street. I don’t remember what kind of horses these are but they are huge and have amazing color.

Peruvian DancersDancersNext, Polish, Basque and Peruvian dancers delighted the crowd with synchronized dances that have a long history in their culture.

Trailing of the Sheep FestivalTrailing of the Sheep FestivalThe sheep were late and the chilly wind was brisk. My teeth were chattering toward the end but at least the sun was shining. Finally, an hour late, the sheep were finally spotted at the end of Main Street. They were moving at a fast pace, and it didn’t look like 1500 sheep, but there they were, packed into Main Street. Apparently every black-faced sheep represents 100 white-faced sheep. I’m guessing this helps the herders keep track of their flock. The sheep were not moving at a leisurely stroll. It seemed like they were gone in about 15 seconds, so getting a good picture was a roll of the dice.

Trailing of the Sheep FestivalTrailing of the Sheep Festival

Starbucks Ketchum, IdahoIt’s now the home to Starbucks, but in 1936 it was a general store. It served as the sheep center where ranchers congregated to swap stories about prices and weather. It’s at the corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road.

Tatra Sheep DogPolish sheep dogs called Tatras also roamed by for parade-goers to pet.

Sheep through Main Street is quite a sight but you’ll want to watch your step after the sheep leave. Once the parade was done, we hurried to get some soup and a burger to warm up.


For more history on the event, here’s my other blog post.


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