Trailing of the
Sheep needs support for future success
Trailing of the Sheep Festival is not a Disneyland experience—which is
part of its attraction for the several thousand people who participated
nothing plastic or contrived about it.
encounter with the basics of life that most people in today’s
urban-poly-techno society never encounter: stock dogs, horses, sheep
wagons, shearing, spinning, a small sea of sheep—and a lot of dust,
dirt and sheep shit.
the basic elements of life is a shock for some. While watching the
shearing demonstration in Hailey, one onlooker said it made her
nauseous. We assume she didn’t partake of the lamb dinner.
festival reconnects the valley with its ranching roots and assembles its
cultural connections with various ethnic groups—Scots, Basques, and
Peruvians—all in one place.
silver mining faded in the late 1880s, the only service left for the
Union Pacific rail spur was hauling sheep to market.
it did. By World War I, Ketchum was the largest sheep-shipping center in
the world. The U.S. used the wool for uniforms and supplied Allied
armies with lamb and mutton.
industry brought Basque herders to the state. Their music and culture
became a colorful part of Idaho. Today’s herders come from Peru and
other Latin American countries, adding another dimension to the state’s
industry was important for skiing as well.
railroad spur shut down after the mining boom, Averell Harriman never
would have considered Sun Valley as the site of the nation’s first
destination ski resort. There were lots of good mountains around, but
few with train service.
of the Sheep allows those of us who too often experience the world
through the glare-reducing windows of climate-controlled cars or the
magic of television, to touch, see, hear and feel a world and a way of
life that is fast disappearing. It brings a world of history and culture
together in a colorful celebration.
began, there was no guarantee the festival would survive. In its sixth
year, it survives on a shoestring budget only through the efforts of
writer Diane Peavey and her husband, rancher John Peavey, a little help
from the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce and dedicated
festival is good for the valley. It generates national publicity and
attracts visitors during what is normally a very slow time for
unique festival will need more to survive and thrive in the future.
cities of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey should boost both financial and
operational support for the festival to ensure future success. It would
be a wise investment in the area’s economic well being and its