local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 16 - 22, 2002


Trailing of the Sheep needs support for future success

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival is not a Disneyland experience—which is part of its attraction for the several thousand people who participated last weekend.

There’s nothing plastic or contrived about it.

It’s an 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.

Rediscovering 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.

The 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.

After silver mining faded in the late 1880s, the only service left for the Union Pacific rail spur was hauling sheep to market.

And haul 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.

The 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 culture.

The industry was important for skiing as well.

Had the 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.

Trailing 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.

When it 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 volunteers.

The festival is good for the valley. It generates national publicity and attracts visitors during what is normally a very slow time for businesses.

The unique festival will need more to survive and thrive in the future.

The 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 cultural heritage.



Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.