Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Community Library to host sheep history presentation

Western Folklife Center brings traveling exhibit to annual festival

Express Staff Writer

The history, customs and traditions of the sheep industry will be displayed and discussed at a special presentation set for 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10, at The Community Library in Ketchum. Shown here is a band of sheep being moved south from Ketchum in 2008, illustrating that much of the work in the sheep industry is done the same way it’s been done for thousands of years.
Express file photo

    Folks curious about the history of sheep ranching in Idaho and the West can learn all about it at a special presentation Friday afternoon at The Community Library in Ketchum.
    As part of Trailing of the Sheep Festival festivities, the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev., is teaming with the library’s Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society Ski and Heritage Museum and prominent Magic Valley sheep ranchers Laird Noh and Mike Guerry for a presentation on the history of the sheep industry.
    The event is free and scheduled to be held from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10. Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Perry’s restaurant.
    “It’s not about issues, it’s just about preserving our history,” said Mary Austin Crofts, executive director of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. “People who are seriously interested in it will get the answers to hundreds of questions.”
    Guest presenters Noh, of Kimberly, and Guerry, of Castleford, are descends of earlier sheep ranchers in the Magic Valley.
    Noh, the president of Noh Sheep Co., served in the Idaho Senate from 1982-2004. He is currently chairman of the Rocky Mountain Sheep Marketing Association and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho.
    “He knows history,” Crofts said of Noh. “I’ve been to some of his talks before and he is extremely well-read and intelligent.”

It’s not about issues, it’s just about preserving our history. People who are seriously interested in it will get the answers to hundreds of questions.”
Mary Austin Crofts
Trailing of the Sheep Festival


    Guerry is of Basque descent and the president of Guerry Inc. He is former president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association and is active in local affairs in the Castleford area, serving as chairman of the board of the Three Creek Rangeland Fire Protection Association.
    In addition to discussions of the sheep industry by Noh and Guerry, the event will feature the Western Folklife Center’s traveling exhibition on Sheep Ranching in the American West.
    The Western Folklife Center is a nonprofit organization that “works to expand our understanding of ourselves and our neighbors by celebrating the everyday traditions of people who live and work in the American West.”
    The center further describes its mission as to “create deep and lasting experiences, to challenge the intellect and engage the emotions, to encourage a sense of belonging for those at home in the west, physically or spiritually, and to ensure that rural communities throughout the region realize and appreciate their own cultural bounty.”
    In addition to the traveling exhibition on sheep ranching, the center has a traveling exhibition on the history of the cattle industry in the West. The center is perhaps best known for its promotion of cowboy poetry.
    In explaining the sheep history exhibition, the center writes that “working with sheep is one of the last handcrafted occupations with ancient roots and traditions. While the business of sheep ranching has evolved, the fundamentals of raising sheep have remained much the same for thousands of years. Sheep herding and ranching provide a hands-on, independent life, where workers shape their daily existence according to the cycles of the seasons that defines their work.”
    The center further explains that “because much of the business of sheep ranching takes place in extremely remote places in the American West, the everyday public is not generally aware of this way of life and the current challenges it faces. The largely invisible occupation is quickly disappearing as the number of sheep operations in the American West diminishes.”
Terry Smith:

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