The Folklife Fair, a big part of this weekend’s highly-anticipated Trailing of the Sheep Festival, proved a feast for the senses. Dozens of lamb dishes, cooked on site in a park in Hailey, tantalized. The smell of lamb burgers, lamb pockets, delicacies of every persuasion, wafted throughout the fairgrounds, subtly reminding visitors that it was lunchtime. And by all accounts, the food tasted just as good as it smelled.
Strains of bagpipes resonated across grassy fields throughout the day, drawing the crowds temporarily away from the food stands and craft tents to cheer on performers. Basque dance groups also proved to have a Pied-Piper effect on visitors, attracting a wide circle of onlookers.
Children and adults alike were invited to touch shorn wool that lay in huge matted bundles throughout the park. It was much, much softer than it appeared. Color exploded from every corner. From the perfect bluebird sky of the Idaho Indian Summer day, to yarn bundles in every hue, to the capes and bright skirts worn by the dancers, the Folklife Fair was a feast for the eyes as well.
Judging from the hundreds of out-of-town license plates lining every street for blocks and blocks around Roberta McKercher Park, people came from near and far to enjoy the Trailing of the Sheep. For every familiar face enjoying what might have been the nicest day of the year, there were three or four unfamiliar ones, all soaking up this glimpse into Idaho’s rich sheep-herding history, all coming together to remember to appreciate life’s simpler joys.
While the parade that wends down Ketchum’s Main Street may be the weekend’s signature event, the fair also deserves a few hours of your time. Before this year, while I always attended the parade – and I do love it; it is colorful, and musical and downright funny – I had never made it to the Fair. From now on, the opportunity to walk through the dozens of craft booths, admiring people’s skill and handiwork with textiles, stopping to let my children watch old-fashioned spindles at work, and yes, to enjoy the wonderful locally-sourced food prepared by local chefs, is permanently on my calendar. If it’s on your calendar next year, too, be sure to check out the great room specials Sun Valley Resort offers for the Trailing of the Sheep weekend.