Friday, January 22, 2021
Sheepish Models Create Memories for Trailing of the Sheep Visitors
A horse and herder watch over the sheep north of Ketchum as they await their cue to go on parade Sunday.
Monday, October 15, 2018


For once, the models were on time and seemingly willing for their photo op, even though it was an early call—9 a.m. on a chilly Sunday morning.

And, it seemed, no matter which angle you shot from there was no ba-a-a-d side to these models.

More than 50 amateur and professional photographers showed up for the Trailing of the Sheep Festival’s annual Sheep Photography Hike, giving shutterbugs the opportunity to get pictures of Rancher John Faulkner’s sheep as they crested the hill overlooking Big Wood Golf Course.

Can you say sheep cheese? How often, do you suppose, do you have all the sheep looking at the camera at the same time. Well, they do tend to be followers.

And the sheep were waiting for them, looking like little marshmallow mounds amidst the sagebrush.

“It’s amazing not to have to hike to find them,” said Festival Communications Director Carol Waller, recalling last year when the sheep, apparently spooked by seeing two-legged critters after months in the backcountry, vamoosed to a ridge out of reach of the photographers.

As the photographers took a litany of photographs, Chris Koomler stood on a hillside soaking up the entire spectacle.

“It’s crazy. I’ve lived in Eagle forever—for 32 years—and I’ve never come to this,” she said. “I’ve learned so much this weekend attending all the talks and movies. I didn’t know, for instance, that sheep don’t have teeth. I’ve learned how they graze differently than cattle. I now I know that Pyrenees are guard dogs. And, then, it doesn’t hurt that it’s so beautiful up here. We’ll definitely be back.”

A Pyrenees watchdog finds a resting spot nestled among the sheep.

Alex Engs, who recently moved to the Wood River Valley from the Bay area, echoed her thoughts. “I was really impressed by the sheep dogs. They’re so dedicated to what they’re doing—they love their job. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

This year’s Trailing of the Sheep Festival appeared to bring a record number of visitors, acknowledged the festival’s executive director Laura Musbach Drake.

Last year’s Trailing drew people from 37 states and 23 countries. And this year’s Trailing drew visitors from each of the 50 states, including Hawaii, as well as a handful of Canadian provinces and Uganda and other countries.

It included a young California couple who learned about the festival from Triple A and so decided to make a detour enroute to visit his grandmother in Grangeville. It included a newly retired California couple now building their dream home in Buhl because of its large Portuguese population.

Photographers found plenty to hold their interest during the Sheep Photography Hike.

And it included four women from the East Coast who have taken girl’s trips together for most of the last 25 years. They toured the Basque square in Boise, ate at Ketchum restaurateur Tom Nickel’s Elevation 486 in Twin Falls and visited Redfish Lake while taking in the sights and sounds of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

“There were three states I’d never been to—Idaho, Montana and North Dakota—so I’ve been able to cross one more off the list,” said one of the women.

David Sydney Scott was not new to Sun Valley, having come here a handful of times to perform at the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival as part of Gator Nation, a band from Sonoma Valley, Calif. But this was his first time performing at the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

“I’m excited because I’m originally from Australia—so to me this is very exciting to be sharing time with sheep,” he said.

David Nelson shows off his sheep wagon bird house that was part of Sunday’s art show at Ketchum Town Square.

A chilly morning was a boon to Ketchum businesses as people piled into shops like Ketchum Kitchens and T’s and Temptations. A long line snaked through Starbucks and the new C.C.’s Coffee, which has taken the place of Leadville Espresso.

That boded well for David Nelson who was hawking sheep wagon bird houses he had created in the workshop of his Hailey home in a small artist’s encampment set up in Ketchum Town Square.

Birds don’t seem to mind holing up in a sheep camp, he said.

“I had a dozen swallows living in one of these this summer!”


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