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Ketchum, Idaho, festival celebrates bringing in the sheep for winter

Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho, becomes a sea of sheep as the animals are moved to their winter grazing grounds. That gives rise to the 18th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival Oct. 9-12.
(Michael Edminster)

A wall of wool will “baa” its way through Ketchum, Idaho, next month as a decades-old tradition--the moving of sheep to their winter lambing and grazing grounds--returns.

The autumn event has been a way of life for more than 150 years, but in more recent times, it’s also been a cause for celebration in the Sun Valley area. The 18th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival will be Oct. 9-12.

Sunday, the final day, draws the most attention when a parade moves down Ketchum’s Main Street starting at noon. The procession includes musicians and dancers, but the main attraction is the sheep, all 2,000 of them.

Shepherds, horses and sheepdogs all work together as the flocks are brought down from the mountain high country. (Visitors are strongly urged to leave their dogs at home.)

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The run-up to the parade is a kaleidoscope of all things ranching and sheep-related.

Championship sheepdog trials will take place Oct. 11 and 12 from dawn to dusk. The trials, sanctioned by the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Assn., will feature more than 50 of the West’s best handlers and their dogs. Venue: Quigley Canyon Field.

For the Love of Lamb, a foodie fest, begins at 5 p.m. Oct. 10. Seven Ketchum restaurants will offer free tastings of various dishes showcasing local lamb. A People’s Choice award will be presented later that evening.

Storytelling and yarn dying are among the other activities. The festival website features a day-by-day schedule. (Click schedule by day.)

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