Why October is Our Favorite Time of the Year…Trailing of the Sheep Festival

Alberto and daughter Xole, with the Oinkari Basque Dancers from Boise, ID in 2016 when Lasaii Benefits was the presenting sponsor for the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

It’s our favorite time of the year at Lasaii Benefits! Not only is our beautiful hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho a glorious landscape of golden yellow, orange, red and bright bursts of green, with cool mountain mornings and cozy evenings, but 1,500 sheep are about to run down main street for The Trailing of the Sheep Festival!

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival is celebrating it’s 23rd year this week, October 9th through 13th and was just selected as one of the 20 nominees for Best Fall Festival by a panel of experts including editors from USA TODAY-winning 3rd place for USA TODAY’s 10 Best. It’s a weekend full of food, culture, and a celebration of history and heritage of sheepherding and ranching in Idaho, more specifically in the Wood River Valley.

Founder of Lasaii Benefits, Alberto Uranga, sits on the Board of Directors and has helped grow the festival to what it is today.

At the age of 23, Alberto left Northern Spain (The Basque Country), to venture into the unknown and head west. Alberto spent three years in the mountains of Idaho with the sheep. Years later in 2002, John Peavey, Sheep Rancher and one of the founder’s of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival thought, “who better to help accomplish my vision of this festival than a man who was a sheepherder and knows the importance of the story of the sheep first hand?” After all, the sheep gave Alberto the opportunity to come to America to pursue the American Dream, become a citizen, and after a lot of hard work, run a successful proprietary business. So, John asked Alberto to jump on board, and the rest is history.

Powerful Community Impact

The festival has grown immensely over the past 23 years and now has a significant economic impact on our valley in an otherwise sleepy time of the year, as the summer crowds are gone and the ski mountain is not yet open. For hotels, restaurants, and retail-the festival is a lucrative weekend with almost 100% occupancy rates and hikes in sales across the board. In 2012, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival brought in $3,000,000 to our local economy and has only grown since then!

Sheep being herded down Main Street, Ketchum, ID with Alberto helping direct them down the street every year.

Family Affair

Not only is Alberto on the Board of Directors for the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, but his daughter, Xole, works along side him for the festival as the Dog Trials Coordinator, as well as in the office of Lasaii Benefits as partner and Senior Consultant in the family owned business.

For us, the festival is not only a time to celebrate, but also a time to reflect on our Basque heritage, the power of community, that family is the most important, and how working hard always wins!

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We will be back in the office bright and early on Monday, but until then, we’ll be out with the sheep. Have a wonderful weekend!