The History of Sheep Ranching in the Wood River Valley
Celebrating the history of sheep ranching and sheepherding in the immediate surrounding area is the focus of this exhibit at the Regional History Museum in Forest Service Park. Learn about the ranching traditions of this prominent agricultural story, and explore the seasonal cycle of raising lambs.
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival Archive
By Kaili Smith, Patricia C. Lane Trailing of the Sheep Festival Archives Intern
Excerpted from the May 2021 Liaison: Stories from the Stacks
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year (2021). The festival itself, like the culture of sheep ranching that it recognizes, has become a defining element of the Wood River Valley each October with days of music, storytelling, food, sheepdog trials, and, of course, the parade of sheep down Main Street in Ketchum.
The records of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival provide a rich trove of stories that give insights into immigration, economics, foodways, and more in central Idaho’s history, and this past year, The Community Library was honored to receive these records into the archives of the Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History to own, curate, and maintain. In addition to the archive materials, the Library was thrilled to have an internship this summer dedicated to accessioning the Trailing of the Sheep materials and to preparing a first exhibit from them. This internship was made possible by a gift from the estate of Patricia C. Lane, and I was honored to be the one to fill it this summer.
The exhibit highlights three different subjects:
- The history of sheep ranching in the Wood River Valley for roughly the last 160 years
- The history of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival
- A timeline of a year in the life of a sheep rancher. This will be a general overview of some of the practices that were first initiated in the late 1880s and carried through to the present. It will also show how these practices have changed as the Wood River Valley has changed and evolved over the years
A community’s celebrations illustrate the community values and the forces that shaped it, and this exhibit prompts reflection on this signature community event and the many stories intertwined with it. Please come visit the Museum in Forest Service Park in Ketchum.