The Board of Directors of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival announced on Friday that this year's festival has been canceled in light of ongoing health concerns.
"We made this decision with great thought and heavy hearts, but we have a moral obligation for the safety of everyone involved to cancel this year's event due to the COVID-19 public health pandemic," said board president John Peavey. "But we will be back, better than ever, to celebrate our milestone 25th anniversary, October 6-10, 2021," he said.
Every autumn, the festival celebrates all things sheep-related as thousands of sheep vacate their summer pastures in the mountains for more temperate winter climes down south. Gourmet cooking, traditional dancing, live music, sheep dog trials and more large events mark the occasion, culminating in the famous sheep parade through downtown Ketchum.
The festival is also a time to enjoy lamb in a culinary setting; food is a major component of Trailing of the Sheep. "The lamb industry was hit especially hard when people could not dine at restaurants due to closure," said Festival Executive Director Laura Musbach Drake. "As it is possible, we encourage you to again enjoy lamb dishes from your favorite eatery. It is also a great time to prepare lamb at home and the American Lamb Board's website is full of cooking tips and tasty recipes."
In Friday's statement, the board acknowledged the major economic impact (around $4.5 million annually, according to the organization) that Trailing of the Sheep has on the Wood River community.
"It is our hope that you support the local community any way you can and celebrate the sheep in your own way as you see them passing through town," Peavey said. "The sheep trailing tradition has been going on in the Wood River Valley for over 150 years and since we can't formally celebrate this 24th year of the festival in our typical grand style, we hope you will capture your favorite photos and create your own memories."
Details for the 2021 edition of the festival will be forthcoming at www.trailingofthesheep.org.