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Every year at the end of summer, livestock herders in the state of Idaho, in the US, guide thousands of sheep through hundreds of kilometers in a route stretching from the Sawtooth Mountains in the north to the winter pastures of the Snake River Valley in the south. The Trailing of the Sheep, as the event is called, marks the end of the four-day festival organized in the town of Ketchum, that celebrates the rich and colorful history and culture of sheepherding in the western United States. The sheep are accompanied by historic sheep wagons and dancers and participants from the Folklife Fair.

Sheep ranching began in south west region of Idaho in the late 1860’s when John Hailey, a Tennessee immigrant and key figure in early Idaho politics, brought the first sheep into the Wood River Valley. At that time, there were only 14,000 breeding sheep in the whole of Idaho. In less than 60 years, the sheep population swelled to 2.65 million, almost six times the state's human population. Ketchum became a major sheep center, second only to Sydney, Australia.

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.





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