Have You Herd? Sheep in the Foothills Festival Hoofs It Into Boise 

Whether you pass fenced-in herds of them on your drive to work, bike through droves of them in the foothills or make a point to seek out their meat and cheese at the downtown Boise farmers markets, it's hard to ignore the hoofprints sheep have made on the Gem State. Still, they aren't often talked about, taking a back seat to cattle all but a few days out of the year. As far as those days go, Saturday, June 9—when the Sheep in the Foothills Festival takes place—is a big one.

The annual festival, hosted by the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center, is dedicated to all things sheep. Highlights include wool and sheep-related crafts taught by Future Farmers of America and 4H members, live sheepdog herding demonstrations, wool and yarn vendors, a mini sheep petting zoo, and live music from Gary and Cindy Braun.

click to enlarge BEE.CITYOFBOISE.ORG/FOOTHILLS
  • bee.cityofboise.org/foothills
While the event is meant to be fun for the family, Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission Executive Director Gretchen Hyde said that at its core, it's about education.

"[Attendees will] hopefully understand a little more about sheep ranching, a little more about the animals, a little more about the management of the foothills and issues like cheatgrass that are becoming more and more of a problem," said Hyde. "... Obviously we're entertaining, but the point of it is to understand that there are very few people who are connected to that kind of industry and [that] understanding more about it is very important."

In that vein, it's worth noting the event doesn't only feature live sheep: Lamb sandwiches will be available from local ranchers, emphasizing the circle of life for kids and adults alike.

"It's something I think people have to remember," said Hyde, "I mean, obviously they're cute and they're fluffy and they produce wool, but the lambs also produce a really phenomenal meat that's really popular on the coast. It's interesting how a lot of people have never tried it—this is a good opportunity."
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