The 16th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival is one of those annual events that manages to draw thousands to the valley each year on a thread. Every dollar needed to stage the sheep dog trials, orchestrate the parade, provide the historical backdrop and invite crafters and presenters from across the state comes from donations.
Besides a learning and cultural event, the festival is a photographer's dream, with iconic imagery at every turn.
This year, the festival has combined those strengths and has produced a beautiful photo book that will be an extra-special fundraising tool.
The "photo adventure" created for major 2011 sponsor Zions Bank, was compiled by the festival's executive director, Mary Austin Crofts, whose activism behind the scenes has added dimension to the festival each year. A writer herself, with a memoir in the works, the former executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District took a few minutes to talk about the publication.
Q) Where did the idea come from and how long has it been in the works?
A) Bruce Kremer, the photographer at the Sheepdog Trials, produced a photo book for this year's trials and everyone loved it. We were gathered for a celebration after the festival and one of our best donors was there and said, "Mary, you should do a book like this on the festival for Zions Bank." I thought to myself, "Oh, that's what I need, another big project." But, it was such a good idea, I couldn't help myself. I got up the next morning and started working on it.
Q) What was the most important sentiment you wanted to convey through the book?
A) I wanted to share just how extraordinary the festival was this past year, how much it touches people and to extend a special thank you to Zions Bank for being our presenting sponsor. Without our donors and sponsors there would be no festival. Their support in 2011 helped make the 15th annual festival such a huge success and I wanted a way to convey that.
Q) How does one get it?
A) The book is available at my bookstore at www. blurb.com. The cost of the book is $75. By the way, you can also preview Bruce Kremer's book on the Sheepdog Trials here: "http://www.blurb.com/user/store/booksbk" www.blurb.com/user/store/booksbk.
Q) What's on the horizon that we can look for in this year's festival?
A) The 16th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival is Oct. 11-14. We are excited about producing a film of the stories from "Women Writing and Living the West." The symposium stories were inspirational and it is imperative to us that we save them to share with the world. We hope to raise enough money and have the film to premier at the SheepTales gathering in October. We are also bringing Linda Cortwright, editor and publisher of Wild Fibers magazine. Linda has traveled more than a million miles to bring stories and photographs of animals, art, culture and the people involved in natural fibers from around the world. We will highlight new instructors and classes in fiber and have new cultural entertainers. We have just launched our new website and although the program is not totally put together yet, it will be soon.