Trailing of the Sheep Festival – An Internationally Renowned Idaho Event

by guest blogger, Brett Wharton

Thursday through Sunday, October 10-13, in Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, the 17th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival treats visitors to a nostalgic celebration of Idaho’s sheep ranchers.

This September, USA Today featured the event on its national list, “10 Great Places for Fall Festivals.” MSN Travel went further, ranking it as one of the “Top 10 Festivals in the World.”

Sheep fill the street in downtown Ketchum.  Michael Edminster

Sheep fill the street in downtown Ketchum.
photo by Michael Edminster

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival includes delicious food and wine, concerts, lectures, and workshops for adults, as well as fun events and craft-making booths for kids. Most importantly, it’s a chance to revisit a part of history, before subdivision and business developments, when open ranges sprawled across the West.

The main events are free. At 12:00 noon on Sunday, sheep wagons parade down Main Street, herding almost 1,000 sheep to their winter pastures. A barbeque follows with live music. Plenty of other events over the weekend take you back in time.

  • Sample lamb dishes by some of Idaho’s best chefs.
  • Enjoy concerts by the western swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown, the bagpipe/drumming/dance group Boise Highlanders, Peruvian Dancers and Musicans, and the Oinkari Basque Dancers.
  • Take classes in cooking, crochet and soap-making.
  • Listen to a talk by New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky.
  • Get up early and carpool to capture beautiful photographs of sheep in the morning light with photographers Michael Edminster and Jack Williams.
  • Watch demonstrations of sheep shearing.
  • Hike on a guided tour through aspen groves to view shepherd’s tree carvings.
  • Visit local historical sites and heritage museums.

There is plenty for kids to do, too. They can have their faces painted, listen to stories, and try their hand at carding wool. They may also make key-chains, felt sheep and more in a variety of fun, hands-on workshops.

Visit to see photos, learn more, and plan your trip.   Come join the fun!