Trailing of the Sheep Festival

Idaho's Unique Cultural Festival Celebrates the Traditions of Sheep, Land, People and Stories

Article by Carol Waller

Photography by Carol Waller

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Sheep have been trailing through the Wood River Valley of Idaho for over 150 years.  Recognized as one of the “Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World” by, the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival held each fall in Sun Valley celebrates its 25th anniversary from October 6-10, 2021.

This special celebration honors the annual tradition of moving sheep (‘trailing’) from high mountain summer pastures down through the Valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas in the south.  This annual migration is living history and the focus of a unique and authentic Festival that celebrates the people, arts, cultures, and traditions of sheep ranching in Idaho and the West. 

While the Festival has expanded greatly from its humble beginnings, the goals and objectives remain the same - preserving the stories and history of sheep ranchers and herders, celebrating the rich cultures of the past and present, and entertaining and educating all about the production of food and fiber that have sustained local economies for generations. The Festival is a unique, extended weekend that celebrates the culture, folk and traditional arts and history of Idaho's sheep ranching families highlighting the principal contributors - the Basques, Scottish and Peruvians.  

The nonstop activities in multiple venues include folk arts, music, dance, storytelling, championship Sheepdog Trials, and the always entertaining, Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep hoofing it down Main Street in Ketchum. 

2021 Festival Highlights include:

·      Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep trailing down Main Street in Ketchum

·      Championship Sheepdog Trials with 100 of the county’s most talented border collies competing for prizes

·      Sheep Folklife Fair featuring the Basque, Scottish, and Peruvian dancers and musicians, sheep shearing, folk, fiber and traditional artists, children’s activities and more

·      Sheep Tales Gathering will present celebrated author Gretel Ehrlich sharing her stories her love of the land, based on her acclaimed collection of essays "The Solace of Open Spaces" on rural life in Wyoming 

·      25th Anniversary Celebration PERUVIAN BALLET FOLKLORICA, performed by the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance and Chaskis Peruvian Musicians, and focusing on Andean Music and Dance

·      Culinary Events with lamb tastings, Lamb Fest at the Folklife Fair, lamb cooking classes, and Farm to Table Lamb Dinners

·      Wool Fest with classes and workshops

·      Hikes and Histories featuring Idaho’s sheep ranchers and renowned storytellers

·      Happy Trails Closing Party with live music by Cindy & Gary Braun and Gator Nation in partnership with the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival

For information, tickets, schedule of events and special lodging information, visit

This Festival celebrates and honors the annual migration, people, arts, cultures, and traditions of sheep ranching in Idaho and the West. 

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