Idaho’s Trailing of the Sheep Festival

Love to know all about the latest and greatest fiber-related events? Make sure to check out “As the Whorl Spins” in every issue of Spin Off. You’ll learn all about wonderful festivals and retreats, and read fascinating interviews with the people behind these events. As an added bonus, there are usually more than a few pictures of adorable sheep and other fiber animals. What’s not to love? This article about the Idaho Trailing of the Sheep Festival is from the Fall 2018 issue. — Christina

Now in its 22nd year, Idaho’s Trailing of the Sheep Festival takes place in Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey. The festival began with the need to share a story. It all started in the early 1990s: a bicycle path was built along a traditional sheepherding route, but area sheep retained the right-of-way through the Wood River Valley. Some of the newer urban residents found this arrangement disagreeable, and local ranchers saw an opportunity to educate the newcomers about the rich history surrounding sheep ranching and herding in this region of the Mountain West. The two groups initially met over coffee, and through their joint effort to resolve their differences, a festival was born.

Sheep Festival

Come for the sheep, stay for the mountains and gorgeous scenery. Ranchland on the way to Sun Valley. PHOTO BY GORD SCHINDELL

Today, the story continues. About 25,000 people representing 37 states and 23 countries attend the festival and celebrate the region’s sheepherding heritage. The event includes something for everyone. Fiber lovers can select from 18 different fiber classes on topics such as needlefelting, botanical dyeing, and rug hooking. Other popular happenings at the festival include storytelling at the Sheep Tales Gathering, the Sheep Folklife Fair, sheepdog trials, and the Big Sheep Parade, during which local herds wind their way through Ketchum. There are also cooking classes and farm-to-table dinners.

As Idaho’s urban population continues to grow, the festival remains an important and engaging way of sharing in rural history.

—Elizabeth Prose

Visit for more information about this year’s Trailing of the Sheep Festival, which takes place October 10–14, 2018.

Find related Interweave posts on Fiber Festivals!

Featured Image: Sheep Trailing Header: The Sheep Parade is one of the many highlights of the Idaho Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

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