This past January, in sunny San Diego, California, John and Diane Peavey, long-time Idaho Wool Grower’s Association members and advocates for the sheep industry, were presented the American Sheep Industry Association’s (ASI) Industry Innovation Award. The Industry Innovation Award is an annual award recognizing the accomplishments of an individual or organization that improves the American sheep industry in a game-changing way. The Peavey’s were honored with this award for founding the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival. Since its founding, they have been actively involved in the planning and integral to its growth and success 25 years later.
Born Out of a Need
Over 25 years ago, in Sun Valley, Idaho, the local recreation district wanted to put in a bike path to connect the towns of the Wood River Valley. They approached the local ranchers, including John and Diane Peavey and John Faulkner and family, to get their permission to put the bike path where they annually trailed their sheep. The ranchers all agreed with the understanding that the sheep would still be utilizing this pathway twice a year for trailing. Yet after the bike path was implemented and began use as public recreation, users started making complaints about the sheep droppings on “their” bike path.
John and Diane saw this as an opportunity. They invited people to the local coffee shop to teach them about the history of the sheep industry in the Wood River Valley and the critical role they play. Later, they invited them to trail with the sheep to experience the industry first-hand. The following year, they replicated the program. It continued to grow until John, Diane, and other community members determined, “We have a festival here.” From there, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival was born, bringing sheep ranchers, community members, and the general public together to learn about the history, culture, and importance of sheep.
John Peavey is a third-generation sheep rancher, former state Senator and co-founder of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. John ran Flat Top Sheep Company for nearly 60 years, before passing it on to his son Tom, the current operator, who has since brought his son Cory into the family business. Diane Josephy Peavey, John’s wife, is a co-founder of the festival, a current member of the Advisory Council, and an author who provides an insider’s view of the joys, struggles, and adventures of life in rural Idaho.
The 26th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival will be held October 5-9, 2022. TrailingOfTheSheep.org