It is officially October in Sun Valley, and that can mean only one thing: the sheep are coming! The countdown has begun to the 17th Trailing of the Sheep Festival that kicks off October 10. This wild and woolly weekend has been called one of the Top Ten Festivals in the world by MSN Travel, one of the Top 200 U.S. Festivals by Amazing Festivals and one of the Top 100 Festivals in North America by the ABA. Around here, we just call it a beautiful fall weekend that provides a wonderful glimpse into our region’s rich history. And the parade of sheep down Main Street in Ketchum is pretty entertaining, too.
It is believed that John Hailey first brought sheep into the Wood River Valley in the 1860s. They soon became a source of fiber and food for early settlers. As the mining industry became less important in the region’s economy, the role of sheep increased. For decades, the sheep population in the state of Idaho greatly outnumbered the human population!
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates this heritage in a very colorful, flavorful, hands-on way. The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, October 10, and continues through the Trailing of the Sheep parade that runs down Main Street at noon on Sunday, October 13. In between, events up and down the valley entertain and educate.
One of the Festival highlights (among many) focuses on food. If you are a lover of lamb, you truly don’t want to miss opportunities to taste and savor this delicacy in countless incarnations. All week, even before the official kick-off of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, foodies can enjoy a lamb dine-around in Ketchum. Local chefs are offering all kinds of lamb specials — from a modern take on the traditional herb crusted rack of lamb with red wine and rosemary sauce at B. Restaurant in Ketchum, to lamb sliders with Lava Lake lamb on Big Wood bread buns at the Cellar Pub, to slow roasted lamb tacos at Despos. Many of your local favorite eateries are offering new takes on lamb so be sure to reserve a different table each night of the week.
Sun Valley’s historic Trail Creek Cabin is on the sheep celebration, too. The talented chef Wendy Little is sure to have an innovative take on incorporating lamb into her fall menu. Please call 208.622.2800 for more information.
Other eating (and drinking) opportunities are abundant, as well. Cooking classes featuring lamb and a course in pairing wines with lamb are scheduled for October 10. A barbecue on Irving’s Hill and Main Street Market in Ketchum will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
My family’s favorite event of the weekend is the Folklife Fair that takes place in Hailey on Saturday, October 12. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roberta McKercher Park, enjoy the spectacle of Boise Highlanders’ bagpipers, drummer and dancers; Peruvian dancers and musicians; Oinkari Basque Dancers; Polish Highlanders and dozens of exhibitions featuring sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep herding, as well as countless booths showcasing fiber art, face painting, crafts, and, of course, lots of lamb-inspired food.
Then there’s the parade that you have to see to believe. Hundreds of sheep racing and jumping down Main Street preceded by wonderful musicians and dancers is a sight you won’t see anywhere else.
For a full schedule for the weekend, please click HERE.
Sun Valley Resort is offering special incentive to come, stay and enjoy all the weekend has to offer with room rates starting at $159 for single or double room. Mention Trailing of the Sheep Festival when you make your reservation.
Think sheep, think fall and I’ll see you at the Festival!