Attractions September 03, 2017
This Town In Idaho Holds A Parade For Sheep Every Year And It’s Just As Weird As It Sounds
Idaho has its fair share of quirky things about it.
A museum dedicated to potatoes? Check. A hotel shaped like an actual dog? Check. One small town in Idaho is home to a festival that is basically a giant parade for sheep. Yes, you read that right. It sounds pretty weird at first, but the Trailing of the Sheep Festival is actually a huge event in Idaho that brings people from all over the country. The festival is a five-day celebration of a hugely important part of Idaho’s economic history—sheep.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival takes place in the picturesque and charming town of Sun Valley, Idaho. The festival is an accumulation of cuisine, concerts, workshops, panels, and most importantly the Trailing of the Sheep Parade.
The parade is not a reenactment of any sort. The parade happens once a year when it's time to herd the sheep south from the mountains where they typically graze for the summer. The herders route the sheep down Main Street in Ketchum for festival-goers to observe.
Every year, thousands of sheep make their way through the town. The sight might seem odd at first, but it's an important tradition for the region's sheepherders.
The region's first sheep were brought into the area back in the 1860s. The sheep industry quickly became an important part of the valley's economy and by 1890 it is estimated that there were 614,000 sheep in Idaho. By the early 20th century, the sheep population was in the millions and well overtook the human population!
During the sheep industry's heyday, Ketchum was one of the largest sheep centers in the world, second to Sydney, Australia.
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival was created in 1997 as a celebration of the ingrained cultural heritage of Idaho's sheep industry along with the important economic impact it had.
In the Wood River Valley, the Scottish and Basque people are credited for having the largest role in making the sheep industry what it was. They began their sheep operations upon arriving in Idaho from Scotland and northern Spain, a lot of which continue today.
The sheep parade may be the highlight of the festival, but it's only one part. The five-day festival is jam-packed with different activities including the "Folklife Festival" which brings together music, vendors, and dancing celebrating the heritages of the original sheepherders.
The Boise Highlanders are one of the oldest pipe bands in Idaho and memorialize the Scots' role as sheep ranchers.
Polish, Basque, and Peruvian dancing groups perform dances at the Folklife Festival in traditional garb.
Since its inception 20 years ago, the festival has been awarded various titles including "One Of The Greatest Cultural Events in the West" by Northwest Travel and is among various "Top Ten Fall Festival" lists from media outlets such as msn.com and USA Today.
The festival usually takes place in early October every year. In 2021, the festival's dates are October 6-10. If you attend, you can expect to witness a unique and important part of Idaho history!
For more information concerning the festival, you can visit their website
What do you think? Have you visited this unique festival? Be sure to check out these other
Unique Festivals In Idaho Everyone Should Experience Once!