For the week of October 14 thru October 20, 1998  

Trailing the sheep

Express Staff Writer

o14shee1.gif (15765 bytes)Monday in downtown Ketchum, participants help herd hundreds of sheep down Main Street as part of the celebration. (Photo by Willy Cook)

"This isn’t Pamplona," John Peavey told the crowd gathered at Big Wood Bread early on Monday morning. "If you keep your feet out from under theirs, they won’t hurt you."

With these words of encouragement and a breakfast of coffee and danishes, the volunteer herders and spectators went out to wait for the sheep.

Diane Peavey, who along with her husband John owns the Flat Top Sheep Company, said a large, bright moon may have scattered the sheep a little more than usual Sunday night. So the crowd waited. And waited.

And finally, with the strains of kilted bagpiper Scott Hays of the Boise Highlanders leading the way, the sheep flowed down State Highway 75 and onto Main Street.

Accompanied by the black and white border collies who herd them and the Great Pyrenees who guard them, the sheep paraded quietly and quickly through the center of town.

Eager bystanders and photographers did spook the band of some 1,700 sheep at the Sun Valley Road intersection just a little. The sheep at the head of the herd turned around and tried to go back up Main Street, but they were soon shooed back into line.

The Peaveys have been inviting the public to walk behind the sheep on their southward migration since 1990. This year, the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce helped promote the event--which included the closure of Main Street--to celebrate the area’s sheep ranching heritage.

Sheep were first brought into the Wood River Valley by John Hailey in 1860. By 1918 there were as many as 2.6 million sheep throughout the state. Ketchum was second only to Sidney, Australia, as a sheep center.

Deb Santa, one of the many red-bandana-clad volunteers lining Main Street to keep cars and dogs away from the sheep, said she remembered when the sheep used to sleep along the side of Warm Springs Road.

"This is really a great passage of the seasons," she said.


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